Judge weighing emanuel lawsuit derides fbi’s ‘outrageous’ approach to gun checks church shooting postandcourier.com data recovery top 10

The FBI already has some of those documents, including one that would have stopped dylann roof from getting the pistol he used to kill nine black worshipers at the church. But the agency’s internal rules halted it from searching a database that stored the document.

U.S. District judge richard gergel called for that system to change tuesday as survivors of the 2015 mass shooting and the victims’ families packed his courtroom. Gergel’s pleas brought force to outside calls for change. The post and courier reported last month on officials’ hesitancy to act.

"You have these examiners on a fool’s errand chasing something the government already has,” gergel said.Mass shooting “it’s outrageous … when you have a system right there that would save a tremendous amount of time.


Gergel’s comments came as he weighs the fate of the victims’ lawsuit against the FBI over the failed background check of roof. Thought to be a first of its kind, the measure has shed light on the FBI’s procedures and revealed new flaws in the already embattled national instant criminal background check system, or NICS.

A spokesman for the NICS unit could not immediately be reached for comment tuesday. The FBI has declined to answer past inquiries from the newspaper about the issue.

But the judge, who also oversaw the criminal trial that prompted roof’s death sentence, indicated that the suit could be doomed because of more technical legal provisions.Dylann roof one may give the FBI immunity from liability when a background check falls short. He’s expected to rule in the coming weeks on the government’s motions to dismiss the case.

" one of the purposes of the lawsuit is to effect change and bring attention to these problems," savage said. "The government needs a wake-up call.

In the initial background check, a red flag popped up: roof’s drug arrest a month earlier in columbia. The drug charge alone wasn’t enough for the FBI to deny the purchase; NICS examiners first needed to find the arrest report and decide whether roof had admitted to drug use, a prohibiting factor for gun ownership.Gergel said

The purchase was delayed as the examiners sent out faxes — a technology that government lawyers said tuesday is used because it cannot be hacked. But the wrong arresting agency had been listed on roof’s rap sheet. The lexington county sheriff’s office told the FBI to get the report from columbia police, but the examiners never reached out to that agency.

Because the background check wasn’t done after three business days — the waiting period under the brady handgun violence prevention act — roof was allowed to pick up the pistol.

Much discussion among lawmakers after the slayings has centered on the so-called "charleston loophole," which allows retail buyers to get their guns before a background check is finished.Dylann roof but extending the waiting period would have done little in roof’s case because the FBI abandoned the check early and never revisited it.

The FBI has said that examiners can reopen delayed checks as special projects after the three-day period. If anyone had wrongly acquired a gun, federal agents can track them down and seize the weapon.

But information revealed during the lawsuit suggested that examiners were discouraged from revisiting the pending cases, the judge said tuesday. Gergel said he’s worried that the FBI’s annual reports to congress have misrepresented how such checks are handled.

A surveillance image captures dylann roof leaving emanuel AME church in charleston with a gun after the mass shooting he carried out there june 17, 2015.Gergel said file/provided ‘never happens again’

The judge voiced astonishment that examiners are not given access to the national data exchange, or N-dex, which put the roof report just "just a few keystrokes away.”

The FBI-maintained database holds an estimated 500 million local, state and federal records, and it’s accessible to tens of thousands of law enforcement officers worldwide.

Federal officials have argued that NICS cannot use N-dex because the unit is not a criminal justice agency, even though it’s part of the FBI. But gergel listed a few of the other types of agencies that can: prisons, college public safety departments, medical facilities and interpol, the international policing organization.Gergel said

"Foreigners have it," gergel said. "There are … Groups of people who have access to it who seem to have a lot less need than these examiners."

Government officials have said the change would require approval from an advisory policy board and an adjustment to agency regulations. One of their lawyers, deputy assistant attorney general thomas ward, suggested that the procedures for making the change were more complicated than the judge had portrayed.

The judge’s intense criticism often elicited murmurs among the dozens of family members who packed the courtroom benches. Many nodded during the judge’s remarks or shook their heads when government attorneys offered explanations. Arthur hurd, whose wife cynthia hurd died in the church attack, was one of them.Gergel said

"This isn’t about the money," hurd said later. "Just once in this country, I would like to see something move along that serves the greater good of us all."

Hurd’s life hasn’t gotten easier in the nearly three years since the shooting, he said. The thought of his wife’s death still stirs tears in his eyes every five minutes.

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