The Gekas Loophole

The Gekas Loophole
On April 16th, 21-year-old Dylann Roof was allowed to purchase a 45 caliber Glock handgun from retailer Shooter’s Choice of West Columbia SC, despite his arrest, indictment, and his pending trial for felony possession of a narcotic prescription drug. Why was this sale permitted? The FBI is taking the blame for an incomplete background check, but the purchase went through because of the gentleman pictured above, former Congressman George W. Gekas, who represented Pennsylvania’s 17th District for 20 years.

When the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was on the House floor in 1993, Rep. Gekas (R, PA-17) introduced Amendment 390, requiring a technologically impossible “instant background check” and, if the FBI couldn’t clear the purchaser within five days (later 3 days) then the sale could go through. This “Gekas Loophole” or “default proceed sale” provision was added, the bill passed, and President Clinton signed it into law.

Today, explains the New York Times‘ Michael S. Schmidt:

“Many major gun retailers, like Walmart, will not sell a weapon if they do not have an answer from the F.B.I., because of the fear of public criticism if the gun is used in a crime. The marginal sale of one gun means little to the bottom line of a large dealer, which is not the case for smaller stores like the one that sold Mr. Roof his gun.”

So, thanks to this loophole, Dylann Roof was not inconvenienced on April 16th, and walked out of Shooter’s Choice with his new weapon. On June 17th he took it into Charleston’s  Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and ended the lives of nine worshipers.

George W. Gekas currently practices law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

More:

“How America Wound Up With a Gun Background Check System Built More for Speed Than Certainty,” Jennifer Mascia, The Trace

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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