The U.S. Air Force failed to send Devin Patrick Kelley’s conviction record and criminal history to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s background-check system, known as NICS, following his 2013 court martial, which is likely what allowed Kelley the ability to purchase a firearm.
The military had not submitted Kelley’s name to NICS – the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and the reason wasn’t immediately clear, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Kelley received a “bad conduct” discharge from the U.S. Air Force after being court-martialed in May 2014 for assaulting his wife and child. He was also sentenced to 12 months confinement and two reductions in rank to basic airman.
Typically, someone discharged from the military for “bad conduct” is still able to legally buy firearms. However, under U.S. code, if Kelley were “dishonorably” discharged, he would not have been allowed to legally purchase a firearm, and this is documented on the ATF’s website.
While someone being discharged from the military for “bad conduct” can still purchase firearms, since Kelley was convicted of domestic assault in his “bad conduct” discharge, he should not have been able to purchase a gun. The Lautenberg Amendment from the 1997 gun bill, which is now law, says that anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor is not able to own or purchase a firearm.
However, since Kelley did not make it into the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System), his background check cleared.
The 26-year-old shooting suspect who killed 26 people and injured 20 others in a Texas church on Sunday had also been denied a gun license from that state, the governor there said on Monday morning. Since his discharge was for “bad conduct” and was not a “dishonorable” discharge, he was still able to buy firearms legally, although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that Kelley was denied a gun permit.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
The U.S. military failed to submit the conviction record of Texas church gunman Devin Patrick Kelley to the Federal Bureau of Investigation following a 2013 court-martial conviction, a lapse that could explain why Kelley was allowed to purchase guns in more recent years.
Kelley purchased one gun in 2016 and another this year at two different Academy Sports + Outdoors shops in San Antonio, according to a spokeswoman for the retailer.
In each instance, Kelley’s request to purchase the guns sailed through the FBI’s national background-check system, known as NICS.
But the U.S. military had not submitted Kelley’s name to NICS, according to a review conducted Monday, an administration official said. The reason for the lapse wasn’t immediately clear.
Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday morning wearing all black, and he started firing. On his way out of the church, the suspect dropped his rifle and fled after being confronted by a local man who had grabbed his rifle.
Kelley was found a short while later, roughly five miles away, dead in his car from a gunshot wound, having crashed his car. It is currently unclear if he shot himself or a local resident shot him.
Kelley was wearing tactical gear and used an AR-15 gun.
This is the largest mass shooting in Texas’ history.
The shooting took place at 11:30 a.m. local time at the First Baptist Church at 216 4th Street in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Sutherland Springs is roughly 35 miles outside of San Antonio and has a population of less than 500 people.
Victims were taken to Connally’s Memorial Hospital. Twenty-three people were killed inside the church, two people were killed outside the church and another succumbed to injuries. The victims ranged in age from 5 years old and up.
This shooting comes on the eight-year anniversary of the Fort Hood shooting, when Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 at the Fort Hood U.S. Army base; 30 others were injured in the 2009 shooting. Sutherland Springs is 150 miles from Fort Hood.
Kelley was a former U.S. Air Force E1 from 2010 to 2014, and he received a bad conduct discharge after being court-martialed in May 2014 for assaulting his wife and child. He was also sentenced to 12 months confinement and two reductions in rank to basic airman.
Since his discharge was for “bad conduct” and was not a “dishonorable” discharge, he was still able to buy firearms legally. Under U.S. Code, dishonorably discharged military personnel are not allowed to legally purchase a firearm, and this is documented on the ATF’s website.