The number of gun sales in South Carolina with unfinished background checks climbed by the thousands last year, according to new FBI data.
According to the Greenville News, more than 271,000 background checks were not finished within the three-day waiting period last year. Federal law allows a buyer to purchase the gun if they do not hear back from the FBI within those three days. Of those unfinished checks, more than 9,000 ended up being turned down by the FBI. That was a significant increase over the roughly 6,000 such purchases that occurred in 2014.
The report said the FBI does not have records on how many of those individuals were actually able to buy a gun after the waiting period ended. However, the FBI does submit retrieval requests to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to pick up guns it believes were sold to prohibited buyers. In 2015, according to the agency, it sent 2,892 such requests. That was up from 2,511 a year earlier.
The background check process has come under increased scrutiny after the FBI’s director James Comey admitted last summer that accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof was able to improperly purchase a gun despite a previous drug arrest only months earlier. The director said a paperwork error meant FBI investigators could not find an incident report detailing Roof’s arrest. Investigators said Roof eventually used the gun to kill nine people at the Charleston church in June 2015.
Democrats have since targeted the three-day waiting period, are since begun calling the mistaken gun sales the “Charleston loophole” since Roof’s attack. South Carolina U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn has proposed legislation that would prevent a gun from being transferred by a firearms dealer until the background check is complete. Republicans oppose open-ended background checks however, believing the FBI must have a time limit to complete its check.