Authorities now understand how Dylann Roof got a gun through the current background check system. They discovered it started with an error made by an unidentified jail clerk. What we may never understand is why Roof allegedly used the gun as he did in the shootings in a Charleston church two months later.
Jay Koon is the Sheriff of Lexington County, South Carolina. He told the Associated Press his jail uncovered a mistake made during the entering of information regarding the Dylann Roof drug arrest. It could have had the upper hand two days later when it was realized. However, the corrected change was not made in the South Carolina State Police database of arrest records. This led the woman doing the FBI examination of Roof’s gun purchase to call the wrong agency.
Here is what happened.
The FBI examiner could tell there was a Dylann Roof arrest record. However, she couldn’t locate the documents in time. If the background check on him couldn’t deliver an approval or denial within three days, the sale of the .45 caliber handgun to him was allowed to go through legally.
The South Carolina State Police criminal records database originally had Roof’s drug charge categorized as a felony. It also had the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office as the arresting agency. The correct charge is a misdemeanor. Dylann Roof was arrested by the Columbia, South Carolina Police Department.
When the FBI examiner contacted Sheriff Koon’s deputies in Lexington County, they told her Columbia police made the arrest. The FBI examiner also faxed a request for more information to Lexington County prosecutors. However, it is believed the fax never got answered.
She called the police in West Columbia where Dylann Roof bought the gun, and found nothing. This was because only a very small piece of Columbia is in Lexington County. Most of the city sits in neighboring Richland County.
Had the accurate information of the Dylann Roof drug arrest been found in time, he would not have been allowed to purchase a firearm. Federal law prohibits a gun being sold to anyone who uses a controlled substance or is addicted.
Lexington County Sheriff Koon has promised changes which will flag discrepancies like the one exposed with the Dylann Roof drug arrest. For 2014, the FBI reported only about 2 percent of the 58,000 background checks done on an average day ended in not getting enough information to give an answer.