FBI says Dylann Roof should not have been sold gun - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: FBI says Dylann Roof should not have been sold gun

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Dylann Roof is escorted to a a police car. AP photo Dylann Roof is escorted to a a police car. AP photo

UPDATE: (NBC News) - The FBI said Friday that the man accused of killing nine African American parishioners at a historically black church in Charleston should not have been able to purchase a gun.

Officials said a background check failure allowed Dylann Roof to illegally purchase a .45-caliber Glock handgun on April 11, eight days after he turned 21, at Shooter's Choice in West Columbia, South Carolina . Roof had previously acknowledged drug possession, according to the FBI.

Law enforcement officials had previously said the transaction was entirely legal, despite his pending drug charge.

The weapon was purchased at a gun store 25 miles from his home.

"We are all sick this happened," FBI director James B. Comey said. "We wish we could turn back time."

Roof had been arrested in late February at a Columbia shopping mall and charged with possessing Suboxone, a controlled substance commonly used to treat heroin addiction. He was indicted by a Lexington County grand jury on a state drug charge.

Federal law prohibits the sale of a gun to anyone who is "under indictment for" a felony.

A separate provision of federal law prohibits the sale of a gun to anyone who is "an unlawful user" of any controlled substance. A provision of the Code of Federal Regulations, which defines that term in the gun law, says habitual use can be inferred from evidence of recent use, examples of which, it says, include "a conviction for use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year," or "multiple arrests for such offenses within the past 5 years."

Those on both sides of the gun policy debate have highlighted problems with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Loopholes have been discovered before in the background check system, also known as NICS, which the Obama administration once described as its "most important tool" for stopping gun crime.

The NICS program is problem plagued, experts say.

Records are incomplete and the federal government has no ability to force states to report on those who should not be able to purchase guns. The law that created the NICS program also relied on an outdated definition that applies only to those who are deemed mentally ill by a court.

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