Air Force didn’t submit Texas church shooter’s criminal history to FBI: Officials
On the one hand, gun control advocates called for closing loopholes and tightening background checks in the aftermath of the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 dead and 20 wounded.
On the other hand, Second Amendment supporters argued that the Air Force’s mistake comes as another example of gun control measures failing to stop mass shootings, even as a former National Rifle Association instructor was able to stop Kelley.
“No amount of top-down gun control is going to stop a determined killer — whether it’s from human error or from killers stealing their weapons,” said Gun Owners of America spokesman Jordan Stein. “The Sandy Hook shooter in Connecticut stole his AR-15. So did the Clackamas mall shooter in Oregon.”
Mr. Stein added, “What actually stops an evil psychopath is what we saw on Sunday — a good guy with a gun.”
The Air Force announced it would undertake a “comprehensive review” of its handling of criminal records after discovering that Holloman Air Force Base officials failed to report to the federal database Kelley’s 2012 court-martial and conviction on two counts of domestic assault.
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The now-deceased 26-year-old gunman was able to obtain multiple firearms legally after passing background checks despite his history of abusing his ex-wife and stepson, which resulted in a 12-month sentence after he pleaded guilty.
“Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Hollomon Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations,” the USAF said in a statement.
USAF spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein directed the Air Force office of the inspector general to conduct the review.
“The Service will also conduct a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly,” said the statement. “The Air Force has also requested that the Department of Defense Inspector General review records and procedures across the Department of Defense.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called Monday for increasing security at churches or encouraging qualified parishioners to carry firearms.
“It’s going to happen again, and so we need people in churches — professional security or at least arming some of the parishioners or the congregation so they can respond when something like this happens again,” Mr. Paxton told Fox News.
Shannon Watts, president of Moms Demand Action, said the reporting system needs improvements. She argued that the “background checks system is only as good as the records in it; any missing record can enable a tragedy, as in this case.”
“That’s why we work to close loopholes, and fight @NRA agenda to make it easier for domestic abusers and violent criminals to get guns,” Ms. Watts said on Twitter.
A prominent senator demanded that the Pentagon go back and review all its disciplinary records and update the gun background check system.
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand said the Defense Department needs to familiarize itself with what records it’s required to turn over, then go look back through the last decade’s worth of investigations and cases to see who should be listed but isn’t.
“If this can happen in one case, it could happen in others,” the New York Democrat said in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis.