ABC 9: Soto speaks on loophole that allows thousands of people who would have failed background checks to buy guns in the US each year

February 26, 2020
In The News

In order to buy a gun in the U.S., you’re supposed to pass a federal background check. But if that check isn’t completed in three days, you can buy the gun regardless.

That’s how records show at least 39,000 firearms were sold in 2018 to people who should have been denied.

It's a problem the FBI has known about for half a decade, but as Channel 9 investigative reporter Christopher Heath discovered, partisan gridlock has left a solution on the table while documents show more guns are ending up in the wrong hands. 

In 2015, Dylann Roof got the gun he used to kill nine people in a South Carolina church because his background check didn't come back in time.

If it had, his prior drug arrest would have blocked him from purchasing the gun.

In the wake of that massacre, changes were recommended to fix the system. A half-decade later, those changes haven't happened.

"It is incredibly frustrating that we can't do the very simple things to keep the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous people," said Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

Rep. Darren Soto said there’s more than one problem with the law.

Federal rules force the FBI to erase any check that takes longer than 88 days.


Since 2014, there have been more than 1 million checks that took longer than 88 days, and those records are now gone.

"We passed a bill to remove the Charleston loophole,” he said. “The Senate has yet to take up that measure."

That bill would have extended the three-day window to 10 days.

It is still sitting in the U.S. Senate.

Rep. Michael Waltz voted against the bill, saying it also rewrote definitions for those with mental health issues, which is something that would have vastly expanded the number of people excluded from purchasing firearms.

"If you are a law-abiding citizen who wants to protect yourself through a constitutionally protected right, those people need to be protected, as well," Waltz said.

The very topic was brought up Tuesday at the Democratic debate in South Carolina.

Congress has also approved more money for the background check system, but critics say the deadlines are what need to be changed. Until that happens, guns can continue to end up in the wrong hands.