Skip to Content

FBI fails to flag some who cannot legally buy a firearm

The FBI now admits it made a mistake by not flagging the Charleston shooter, Dylan Roof.

He was not legally allowed to buy a firearm because of his criminal history.

On Friday, ABC 17 News talked with employees of Target Masters in Columbia.

Jim Hill, the owner, said he feels the FBI does a good job of flagging people who can’t legally buy a firearm.

But he said there have been a few instances where the FBI has called back weeks later trying to track down a buyer who was not flagged when they should have been.

When customers come into Target Masters to buy a gun, Hill said they all go through the same process.

“We’ll hand them this form that’s called 4473,” Hill said. “It’s a form to sign by the federal government. They have to fill out all the pertinent answers in there, sign it, date it and then they have to give us a photo ID with a current address.”

After that, Hill said they make a phone call.

“We pick up the phone and call the FBI through the NICS system and then we give them the information on this form.”

The NICS system is used by the FBI to verify the form filled out by the customer is correct and to do a background check to make sure the prospective buyer can legally own a gun.

But Hill said there have been a few instances where he will tell a customer no, even before contacting the FBI.

“Good example, I had a guy come in and I was working in a different store at the time and he’s telling me all this stuff and he’s filling out the form,” Hill said. “He told me he’d just left his psychiatrist and he had evidently pulled a knife on his wife, the police had come and taken all his firearms away so he was coming in to buy another firearm.”

Hill said he was worried that because the case was pending, the FBI may not have had the files yet. So he told the customer no.

But Hill said the FBI has made mistakes before.

“We’ve actually had them call back and try to find out if someone did get the gun because they messed up and didn’t deny it and they didn’t tell us anything and they may call back three weeks later and they found something,” he said.

Hill said the FBI then asks the store for the address and goes to track down the buyer.

Although the FBI handles all the background checks, Hill said he’s not afraid to tell a customer no.

“If someone comes in smelling like alcohol or wired on some kind of drug, we’ll tell them no,” he said. “We have that right and we figure we have an obligation to the community to not let these type of people have a gun, regardless of whether we can legally sell it or not.”

Hill said it’s infrequent that the FBI doesn’t flag someone who should be flagged. He said he sees it in his store maybe once or twice a year.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

ABC 17 News Team


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content