Could Dylann Roof's Dad Be Charged?

by Kim Lyons

While the Charleston, South Carolina community tried to comfort each other in their grief on Sunday, the 21-year-old charged with nine counts of murder, Dylann Roof, remains in custody in the North Charleston jail, with bail set at $1 million for a firearms possession charge. Authorities say Roof went into a Bible study group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday and shot and killed nine people to "start a race war," CNN reported. It's not entirely clear how Roof would have obtained a gun: the New York Times reports that he bought a gun himself, whereas Reuters reports that a gun was given to him by his father for his April birthday. Both could theoretically be correct. But if his father had given him the gun that Roof allegedly used to kill others, could Roof's father be charged?

At the time of the shooting, Roof had felony drug charges pending against him, stemming from his alleged role in trespassing and drug crimes. Under federal law, someone with pending felony charges is barred from obtaining firearms, so either he had the gun illegally, or he had found some legal loophole to obtain one. Roof was arrested in February and charged with possession of the narcotic drug Suboxone.

Someone with Roof's criminal record would not have been able to purchase a gun at a store, or at any gun dealer with a federal license. But television station WYFF in Greenville, South Carolina interviewed a gun shop owner said the system that is supposed to flag felonies during a background check doesn't always show "pending" charges.

However, Roof's uncle told Reuters that Roof received a pistol from his father as a birthday gift in April. So is it possible that Roof's father, Franklin Roof, could be facing criminal charges for supplying his son with a gun used in nine killings? According to The Washington Post, federal law states that if Franklin Roof knew about the pending felony drug charges, but still gave him a gun, then he could face up to 10 years in prison.

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South Carolina does not require background checks for private gun transactions, such as giving or selling a gun to someone, the Post reported, but it's against the law to give a gun to someone convicted of a felony or indicted on felony charges. But if you don't know about the charges, you're not required to ask in South Carolina, which allows guns to be passed between private owners with few hurdles.

He has not yet been charged with anything, but Franklin Roof told police he's received threatening calls since Dylann's arrest, according to The Daily Mail.

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