Frequently Asked Questions About the “Charleston Loophole”

Frequently Asked Questions About the “Charleston Loophole”

Getty/David L. Ryan As background checks for firearms soar during the coronavirus pandemic, a Glock pistol sits on display at a gun store in Warwick, Rhode Island, on July 9, 2020. This fact sheet will be periodically updated to account for new policy developments. It was last updated on February 10, 2021. Click here to view other fact sheets in this series. What is the “Charleston loophole?” In the vast majority of cases, when an individual seeks to buy a gun and submits to a background check, the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) returns a definitive result within a matter of minutes, indicating whether the buyer is legally eligible to buy a gun. 1 However, in a small number of cases, the system is unable to make an immediate determination as to whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy a gun. Under current federal law, the FBI has three business days to continue to investigate. If after three days, the FBI has not concluded the investigation, the gun seller has the discretion to proceed with the sale, despite the lack of an affirmative finding that the individual is eligible to buy a firearm. These sales are called “default proceed” sales. 2 The default proceed sale process has become known as the Charleston loophole. This loophole was how the shooter who committed a horrific hate crime in 2015 at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, obtained his firearm. The shooter’s criminal history made him ineligible […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.