The Washington Post editorial board likes to think that they’re very clever… even smart. Unfortunately, they consistently prove that they are anything but well-informed.
They did so again yesterday when they attempted to blame the FBI NICS background check system for failures that allowed the racist who murdered nine innocent Emanuel A.M.E. Zion Church to obtain a Glock 41 pistol from a local gun store.
On Friday, FBI Director James B. Comey offered a revelation that casts new light on that impasse. D_____ R___*, Mr. Comey told reporters, should have failed a federal background check. The 21-year-old racist admitted to illegal narcotics possession in February, which should have prevented him from purchasing a firearm. Instead, Mr. R___ bought the .45-caliber pistol allegedly used in the attack on Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church from a South Carolina gun store without setting off alarm bells. Bureaucratic wires between South Carolina and Washington got crossed, and a federal analyst didn’t see Mr. R___’s admission.
Mr. Comey’s revelation should, first, inspire a lot of soul-searching among federal law enforcement. They aren’t responsible for Mr. R___’s virulent racism, but they failed in the narrow area of responsibility that the nation entrusted to them. Congress has stifled the study of gun violence and theenforcement of gun laws in the past. But this appears to be a the fault of a poorly operating database.
No, the NICS database system wasn’t at fault in the slightest, a fact that the Washington Post editorial board would know if they did even basic research before spouting off their ill-informed opinion.
As we noted Saturday, there were two main failure points of communication that allowed this attack to take place, and neither had anything to with the NICS database:
As we noted in our initial report yesterday, the NICS background check system didn’t fail. Based upon what the FBI director has made public, there were two failure points.
Multiple Data Entry Failures
At the local level, for reasons that still remain unclear, the wrong arresting agency was listed for the suspect’s drug charge.
This data entry was compounded when because the list of law enforcement agencies in South Carolina used by NICS in their investigations was incorrect due to another data entry error.
ATF Retrieval Failure
When I worked retail in a gun shop, we once had a customer who was delayed, and who later returned to pick up his firearm after the three-day deplay period had expired. NICS determined the following day that he should have been considered a prohibited person, and sent ATF agents to our store to pull his form 4473, and then went to retrieve the firearm within 48 hours.
In this instance in south Carolina, the suspect waited five days—nearly doubling the amount of time investigators had to investigate his history—before picking up the handgun, on April 16, 2015.
62 days after picking up his firearm, and 67 days after submitting his information to the FBI NICS, the killer carried out his attack.
Where was the breakdown between NICS and the ATF that allowed more than two months to pass without the killer being targeted for a gun retrieval?
There is nothing wrong with the existing implementation of the NICS system.
What we had here is a all-too-human data entry error that seems to have originated in South Carolina law enforcement, and an even more worrying failure of communication between NICS and the ATF.
Of course, this reality doesn’t serve the Washington Post drive to implement more gun control, and so their propaganda piece continued to try to sell their skewed point-of-view.
Mr. Comey’s admission should also drive home what should be an obvious point: A tightened, functional background-check system and other simple measures would erect real and practical barriers to people attempting to buy guns for nefarious purposes. If the system had worked correctly in this case, Mr. Roof would have been turned away at the gun store counter. If Congress had tightened up the system’s rules years ago, he would have had a harder time looking elsewhere, such as at gun shows. If federal and state lawmakers weren’t so in thrall to the pro-gun fringe, friends, family members and other potential sources would have faced clear and high penalties for giving Mr. Roof a weapon without taking him to a gun store to get checked out first.
This Post calumny against 100 million lawful gun owners isn’t remotely true.
Background checks don’t ever enact “real and practical barriers” of substance to people dedicated to the obtaining weapons to carry out criminal enterprises. Narcotics dealers and gang bangers (who cause roughly half of the homicides in the United States) can obtain firearms from the same smuggling routes that provide them with the drugs that they sell.
Mass murderers, in particular, have found bombings and arson to be far more effective ways to kill large numbers of people.
It isn’t any surprise that the Post editors mislead their readers about gun shows, intentionally refusing to tell them that FFLs (federal firearms license holders, AKA, gun dealers) must conduct NICS background checks everywhere they do business, including at gun shows.
Nor should it come as a shock that the Post editorial board is being dishonest about a lack of “still and high penalties” for straw purchasing, as conviction on a single charge carries with it up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine… on those rare occasions that the Obama Justice Department’ prosecutors actually pursue such cases, of course.
Once again, the Post offers “solutions” that are primarily designed to impede and harass those who already follow the law, and which would have no effect whatsoever on the mass killers of Columbine (who obtained their weapons via straw purchases) or Newtown (who obtained his weapons via murder) or the Washington Navy Yard (who passed both NICS background checks and the enhanced state-level background checks instituted after the Virginia Tech massacre), nor even the attack in Charleston which is their current excuse for attacking the basic human right of armed self-defense.
It’s a shame that the Post is more interested in attacking law-abiding gun owners than addressing the thug violence problem.
Sadly, we can’t say it’s surprising.
* Bearing Arms does not publish the names of mass murderers or spree killers.