From ABC News:
The FBI says its background-check system failed, allowing the man who allegedly opened fire inside a South Carolina church last month to purchase the gun he used in the rampage.
Speaking to a small group of reporters in Washington today, FBI Director James Comey said 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Lexington, South Carolina, should not have been able to buy the weapon that ultimately killed nine people, including the pastor of the historic church.
When Roof first tried to buy the weapon from a dealer on April 11, an FBI examiner spent several days determining whether the sale should be approved. The examiner missed Roof’s previous admission to drug possession during an arrest, which under FBI guidelines should have barred him from buying a gun, according to Comey. Roof obtained the weapon on April 16.
“This case rips all our hearts out,” Comey said.
This latest development raises a lot of what-ifs. To state the obvious one, what if the check had worked properly and he wasn’t cleared to buy a gun, would that have prevented the tragedy?
Maybe. But then again, maybe not. This disturbed young man has a hate-filled heart and he was determined to start a race war.
Perhaps the background check could have delayed him from lashing out as he would have to figure out another way to get his hands on a gun or find another way to inflict harm on innocent people, but as far as stopping him altogether — short of killing him or arresting him and getting him off the streets for a significant period of time (not the type of shot sentence he would earn if he was arrested for being a prohibited person attempting to buy a firearm) — I’m not sure any law or background check would have stopped him.
So, yes, one can lament that the background system failed to do its job. But I think what is more lamentable is that none of those victims had the means (maybe due to a gun-free church policy or maybe their own beliefs about gun ownership) to defend themselves against that sociopath.