As America mourns its dead and South Carolina recovers from the tragedy that befell its citizens who were victims of a senseless act of evil, many questions need to be addressed. Chief among these is how a deranged racist and indicted felon like Dylann Roof acquired the weapon used to perpetrate the mass shooting.
There are conflicting accounts as to how Roof obtained the weapon. It was initially reported that he was given the .45 caliber handgun as a birthday present from his father. However, subsequent reports contradict this version and indicate that he purchased the weapon himself, using money given to him by his parents for his birthday.
The question of how he acquired the weapon is a crucial one and carries serious legal ramifications. In April, Roof was charged with felony possession of narcotics. Under current federal law, federally licensed gun dealers must run background checks on firearms purchasers and are prohibited from selling firearms to convicted felons or those with pending felony charges.
However, most states, including South Carolina, do not require the transferor of a gun to conduct a background check on the transferee in private transactions involving unlicensed sellers. Some states, including New York, do require background checks in these types of private transactions. Even in these states however, exceptions are made for the type of transfer alleged to have occurred between Roof and his father.
Still other states require the transferee to possess a gun-purchasing license. Transferees in these types of private transactions are required to undergo background checks in order to obtain a license and the transferor is required to compel the transferee to produce such license before transferring the firearm. This ensures that the necessary background check is effectuated before the firearm changes hands.
Under South Carolina law, it would have been permissible for Roof’s father to give his son a firearm without conducting a background check. If however, Roof’s father was aware of his son’s pending felony narcotics charge, and transferred the weapon nonetheless, he would be criminally liable. The issue would then turn on whether there was legally sufficient proof to establish such knowledge, an evidentiary burden that would rest on state or federal prosecutors.
Reports are now surfacing that Roof purchased the firearm himself. If this account is accurate, it would mean that Roof underwent and passed a background check. That would mean that the weapon was purchased before felony charges were leveled or more troubling, the purchase occurred after the felony indictment and something went awry during the verification process.
Regardless of how Roof obtained the weapon, President Obama, who favors eroding Second Amendment rights, was quick to turn the AME church tragedy into a referendum on the Second Amendment and pursue his agenda driven, anti-gun policies with vigor.
Following the shooting, Obama delivered a speech in which he stated,
“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun…At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.”
Of course, Obama conveniently forgot to note the countless times when armed, law-abiding citizens prevented disaster by neutralizing those wishing to inflict harm such as when Mark Vaughn shot and killed a Muslim terrorist who was in the midst of knifing a civilian at Vaughan Foods processing center in Moore, Oklahoma . Had Vaughn not been armed, the victim of the attack would have likely suffered the same unfortunate fate of her co-worker, who had been decapitated by the crazed, knife-wielding terrorist just moments before.
Obama’s assertion that this type of violence doesn’t occur in other advanced countries is arrant nonsense and patently false and absurd. Obama exhibits the symptoms of selective amnesia as just this year, AK-47-toting, Muslim terrorists gunned down 16 people in Paris during the notorious Charlie Hebdo-HyperCacher attacks. Similar mass shooting sprees have claimed the lives of dozens in England, Germany and of course Norway where Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in cold blood in a gruesome attack that is regarded as the one of the most notorious mass shooting incidents in modern history.
Certainly lessons can and should be drawn from the Charleston massacre. But the last thing we now need is yet more restrictive gun-control laws that would have little effect on criminals and would only serve to prevent law-abiding citizens from obtaining the means to defend themselves against those who seek to break the law.
As for Dylann Roof and the still as of yet undetermined circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the firearm used in the horrific bloodbath, the full facts must be swiftly ascertained and appropriate legal action, if any is warranted, must be expeditiously implemented.
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