Dylann Roof should not have been able to buy a gun

Posted 7/10/2015

Update: I still haven't been able to find online the actual copy of the indictment.  If it was for a violation of South Carolina code 44-53-370(b), such a violation is punishable by a sentence of more than one year (except for Schedule V drugs, which evidently was not the case with Roof's possession of Suboxone) and the indictment itself is sufficient to prohibit Roof from acquiring a firearm from a dealer, and the transaction should have been denied -- regardless of what the FBI director said.  But I see that mere possession of many drugs is a violation of 44-53-370(d), for which the sentence is not more than six months for all but some Schedule I and II drugs, and even a conviction for possession of Suboxone would not disqualify Roof from purchasing a firearm.

I still question what the FBI director said.  The arrest report indicates Roof acknowledged that he possessed Suboxone, but nothing indicates he acknowledged using it.  There may be something else where Roof made such an admission, but so far that's not available.

By the way, those in Washington State or Colorado who are "unlawful user[s]" of marihuana should be aware that it is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug (see Schedule I (c)(10) in 21 U.S.C. Sec. 812), and as the FBI director said, it's against the firearms statute for such a user to possess a firearm or any ammunition. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 922(g)(3).

I'm disappointed the FBI director didn't make the relevant documents readily available.  That's characteristic of an administration that is far from the most transparent in history!

The FBI Director's statement is correct that a mere arrest does not prohibit a person from buying a firearm. But the Director's statement seems to be clearly wrong, in that it doesn't address a third instance which prohibits a person from receiving a firearm, when the person is under a indictment for an offense for which the possible sentence is more than one year.  The Lexington County clerk's office link to the docket (from that link you have to accept the disclaimer, then enter the letters that pop up, and then search for Dylann Roof) for the drug charge indicates there was an indictment (No. 0000GS32), although it doesn't specify which Schedule the indictment was for.

I haven't been able to find the actual indictment from the state grand jury, so it's possible that even though the police officer found Suboxone on Roof, the actual indictment may have been for some lesser charge.

If the FBI Director did have the actual indictment, and it was for possession of a Schedule IV substance, and therefore a violation of South Carolina Code Section 44-53-370(b)(3), then the talk about missing an admission of using Suboxone is so much whitewash.  The real issue would be that his NICS didn't realize that an indictment for this offense prohibited Roof from acquiring a gun, even though South Carolina characterized the offense as a misdemeanor. 

I see that the arresting officer was told by poison control that the Suboxone was a Schedule III narcotic, according to the arrest report PDF found on the Washington Post website.  That would make it punishable for up to five years, and South Carolina calls that a felony.  I'm not conversant in this area of the law, but that information appears contrary to my reading of the statute.

I also see that the criminal history suggests the arrest was for a felony violation of 44-53-370(b)(not subsection (d)), according to a PDF found on the RadarOnline website.