Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


June 20

The Post and Courier of Charleston on a policy over the background check that allowed the Charleston church shooter to get a gun:

The man who murdered nine men and women at Emanuel AME Church … should never have been able to purchase the weapon he used to commit that atrocity. That fact is now well established.

It even has a name - the Charleston Loophole.

Generally that term refers to the fact that the federally mandated three-day waiting period expired before Dylann Roof’s background check turned up evidence of a misdemeanor drug charge that should have at least temporarily disqualified him from purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer.

But while that’s technically true, it’s hardly the whole story. Federal and local officials made a variety of errors before, during and after the background check that allowed Mr. Roof to obtain a weapon. The list of mistakes and the outdated policies that led to them is too long to rehash in this space.

Suffice it to say that major reform is needed. And the families of the Emanuel victims were entirely reasonable and indeed responsible in suing the government for its devastating failure. Unfortunately, a section of a federal law all but prevented those lawsuits from going anywhere. And on Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel threw out 16 such cases....

“Neither a local government nor an employee of the federal government or any state or local government responsible for providing information to the national instant criminal background check system (NICS) shall be liable . for failure to prevent the sale or transfer of a firearm,” reads the relevant portion of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which mandated background checks for certain gun sales.That’s pretty clear. And it makes sense for the most part. The government would expose itself to tremendous liability by allowing lawsuits over gun-sale background checks.But it is difficult if not impossible to come up with another case in which a failure in the background check system has led to such horrific tragedy. The severity of the consequences for the government’s mistakes leading up to the Emanuel shooting demand that changes be made to prevent future disasters.Mr. Gergel made it clear that he agrees.“The fault here lies in some abysmally poor policy choices regarding the operation of the NICS,” wrote Judge Gergel in his ruling. “The glaring weaknesses revealed in the background check system . are the function of distinct policy choices made by the FBI, not violations of specific legal standards.”Policies must be updated. Technologies must be brought up to date. Communication between law enforcement departments and agencies must be improved.But the Charleston Loophole, in all of that term’s complexity, isn’t really a loophole at all. It’s a gaping abyss. And no amount of correction to the NICS will resolve it, because about a fifth of all guns are purchased - legally - without

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