“If Congress had passed some common-sense gun safety reforms after Newtown,” President Obama said during a visit to San Francisco on Friday, “we don’t know if it would have prevented what happened in Charleston.”
Actually, we do know: Had the bill to which Obama was referring been enacted, it would not have done anything to prevent Dylann Roof from murdering nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night. But as is usually the case with the policies that gun controllers push in response to horrendous crimes like this one, logic is optional.
Obama was talking about legislation proposed following the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—in particular, “reforms that 90 percent of the American people supported,” meaning expansion of the background check requirement for gun buyers to include sales that do not involve federally licensed dealers. But as CNN reported the day of Obama’s remarks, Roof bought the .45-caliber Glock Model 41 handgun he used in the church attack from a Charleston gun store in April, shortly after his 21st birthday (which was on April 3), with money his father had given him as a present. That means he passed a background check.
Whether Roof should have passed a background check is a matter of some dispute, but it looks like he did not have a disqualifying criminal or psychiatric record. Roof was arrested at a mall in Columbia, South Carolina, on March 2 February 28 [see below] and charged with illegal possession of Suboxone, a Schedule III combination of the narcotic buprenorphine and the opioid antagonist naloxone (legally used to treat opioid addicts). According to a story The New York Times ran on Thursday, the drug charge was a felony. But according to subsequent reports from the Associated Press and The Charlotte Observer, the charge was a misdemeanor.