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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called out the FBI Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” for allowing the man accused of shooting nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to purchase a gun. The accused shooter should have been prevented from buying a firearm because he acknowledged drug possession in a previous arrest, FBI officials said late last week.
In her first on-camera comments about the situation since the FBI admitted the errors Friday, Haley said the agency told officials in her state that it was a federal mistake.
“When the FBI called us, we were told that it was an FBI issue, that it was not a state issue,” she said.
Haley, a Republican, said the issue is not the amount of time it takes for a background check to clear, but the technology used to make sure those who should be prevented from buying a gun are stopped.
“When someone has a charge filed against them, it should go into a database, and it should be shown immediately to anyone’s that looking at it,” she said. “I would be more interested in what went wrong. Why are they dealing with paperwork and not dealing with technology?”
Haley also said the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds on Friday was “like a massive weight had been lifted off South Carolina.”
“We can truly say it's a new day in South Carolina,” she said.
“It was hard for me to look at that flag coming down and not think about the Emanuel Nine,” Haley said later, referring to the shooting deaths of nine people in Charleston in mid-June. “It reminded me of how much South Carolina’s moved forward. The way that we didn’t have any protests, we had vigils, we didn’t have, you know, people getting out of hand, we had hugs. It just was a real proud moment for South Carolina.”
When asked whether the removal of the flag from statehouse grounds might translate to other policy shifts — namely the issue of voter ID laws – Haley said her philosophy remains the same.
“I've never seen the voter ID as a racial issue,” she said. “I see is it’s an issue where people prove who they are, and I think that’s something very important for our democracy.”