DOJ A Announces Policy Regarding Firearms Background Checks

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Written by ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On October 28, 2021, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) reached an agreement to settle civil cases arising from a 2015 mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, involving a background check for a firearm that enabled the shooter to purchase the weapon used in the shooting, according to one DOJ press release.

All 14 claimants agreed to settle the claims alleging that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was negligent in failing to prohibit the sale of a firearm by an authorized firearms dealer to the shooter. The settlements ranged from $ 6 million to $ 7.5 million per claimant for those killed in the shooting and $ 5 million per claimant for survivors.

The plaintiffs claimed that the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) did not find out in time that the shooter was a person prohibited by federal law from owning a firearm and that this delay allowed the shooter to purchase the handgun he used to kill nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church.

On June 17, 2015, faithful of Mother Emanuel – a historically African-American 200-year-old congregation – invited a white stranger who had entered their church to participate in a Bible study. At the end of the Bible study, the man, who was a self-proclaimed white supremacist, killed nine people, including Mother Emanuel’s pastor.

“The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime that caused immeasurable suffering to the families of the victims and survivors,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the statement. Press release. “Since the day of the shooting, the Department of Justice has sought to bring justice to the community. ”

When a person tries to purchase a firearm in the United States, NICS staff perform a buyer’s background check which verifies that the buyer has no criminal record or is not otherwise ineligible. to buy or own a firearm. Since its launch in 1998, more than 300 million checks have been carried out, resulting in more than 1.5 million refusals.

The FBI and the NICS play a crucial role in the fight against gun violence. Since that tragic shooting, the FBI has worked to strengthen and improve the background check process. The DOJ and the FBI are also actively working to address gun violence, which is an important aspect of the department’s overall violent crime reduction strategy.

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