November 28th, 2017

The Air Force’s failure to report church shooter’s previous conviction wasn’t just an isolated case

You may recall that the gunman in the recent Texas church shooting was able to legally obtain a gun because of a failure on the part of the Air Force:

A day after a gunman massacred parishioners in a small Texas church, the Air Force admitted on Monday that it had failed to enter the man’s domestic violence court-martial into a federal database that could have blocked him from buying the rifle he used to kill 26 people.

Under federal law, the conviction of the gunman, Devin P. Kelley, for domestic assault on his wife and toddler stepson — he had cracked the child’s skull — should have stopped Mr. Kelley from legally purchasing the military-style rifle and three other guns he acquired in the last four years…

The Air Force also said it was looking into whether other convictions had been improperly left unreported to the federal database for firearms background checks.

That was written about three weeks ago. I guess when the Air Force looked into it, they found that Kelley’s was not an isolated case:

A review by the United States Air Force has found several dozen cases where the military failed to report service members convicted of serious crimes to the federal gun background-check databases, Air Force officials said on Tuesday.

“The error in the Kelley case was not an isolated incident and similar reporting lapses occurred at other locations,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking.”

There have been about 60,000 incidents in the Air Force since 2002 involving service members that potentially should have been reported to the federal background-check database. All of those incidents are now being reviewed by Air Force officials. Air Force officials were unable to say on Tuesday how many of those 60,000 cases have gone through the review process so far.

The only good thing about this—the only good thing—is that now that the Air Force is aware of its failure it might actually correct it before there are more murders.

Of course, it’s also true that if someone is determined enough to kill, that person can obtain a gun illegally or can use other mass murder methods (bombs, for example). But let’s not make it so very easy for them. When the enforcement of a law depends on the efficiency of an organization, that organization had better not slip up or the law can’t work as intended.

17 Responses to “The Air Force’s failure to report church shooter’s previous conviction wasn’t just an isolated case”

  1. Griffin Says:

    ‘Several dozen’? That could certainly be a wide range of numbers. Seems weasily.

    Me thinks the number may be on the high end.

  2. Liz Says:

    I hope that they start reviewing & inputting with their current cases and then go back.

  3. parker Says:

    This is but one of a billion reasons why big government should be 90% smaller. It is a federal crime for an ex-felon to possess a firearm with a minimum sentence of 5 years in a federal pen. This was thanks to NRA lobbying efforts. Want to guess what percentage of ex-felons caught in possession of a firearm are prosecuted? Hint: it is less than 1.

  4. Liz Says:

    Parker – don’t forget about the sentencing memo that AG Sessions issued in May 2017. First key principle was that “prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious. readily provable offense.” Next principle was “prosecutors must disclose to the sentencing court all facts that impact the sentencing guidelines”. He rescinded previous Obama-era policy statements.

    The MSM and Ds all said this was about the drug problem, but it really deals with all crimes. In your example, if the police catch a felon with a gun, the US attorney would have the responsibility to charge that felon and seek the 5 year minimum penalty.

  5. n.n Says:

    Elective abortion is a popular, even virtuous, act in modern societies. Despite efforts to label human life down, and the twilight fringe to deny human evolution, the motive and outcome of the act does not diminish with evermore progressive euphemisms.

  6. tom swift Says:

    “But let’s not make it so very easy for them.”

    This seems superficially reasonable … but it’s really just an excuse for an ever-expanding catalog of totally useless laws. Huge legislative wishlists are not government’s job. Government should, at most, regulate the things it can, and stop pretending it can regulate anything else. We should all have learned this lesson after the disastrous experience of Prohibition.

  7. parker Says:


    A con caught with a gun is an easy case to prosecute. There is no excuse. But calling for more restrictions on top of the 50,000 plus fed, state, local gun laws on the books, is easy media talking points to cast shame on the deplorable bitter clingers. And yes, that is me.

    If our would be masters do not live by the laws they impose on the peasants or enforce those same laws; there is no rule of laws, only the rule of tyrannts. We live in a lawless, reckless tyranny where one third of the GDP passes through the greased palms of DC, and the rest is borrowed.

  8. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Or maybe someone was intentionally doing this hoping to get a Fast and Furious like reaction for pro gun control pro human enslavement factions in the USA.

  9. AesopFan Says:

    “Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking.”

    Classic obfuscation of the fact that they dropped the ball.
    Probably had to cut training and oversight here to make sure no one was using the wrong bathroom.

  10. AesopFan Says:

    parker Says:
    November 28th, 2017 at 4:49 pm
    This is but one of a billion reasons why big government should be 90% smaller.
    * * *
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    When the government is the ultimate agent, there is no one left to police their actions.

  11. TommyJay Says:

    Parker’s point is the biggie. The current laws are plenty adequate, but prosecutions are rare. For example, if a convicted felon is busted buying some drugs and is found to be carrying a gun: How can there be a failure to prosecute? Actually, some of Obama’s Pres. pardons where for people convicted of that offense. Do Dems really want guns in the hands of criminals and not in the hands of law abiding citizens?

    But another important point is; is the FBI operated NICS (the gun purchasing gateway) system any good? Why did the Texas CCW licensing system deny Kelley a carry license? They certainly did not know about the Air Force conviction. What did those people know, and why didn’t the NICS system know that too?

  12. parker Says:

    From my POV, ATFE should be a chain of convenience stores. Old joke, but still on point. Myth busting…

    Silencers ain’t silence, just drop the muzzle blast below ear drum damage. Semi auto is not ‘assault’ anything. Last of all, in a truly free society why shouldn’t I freely possess any weapom the fbi possesses? No checks, no waiting period.

    Funny thing is I am a bolt and lever action guy when it comes to rifles. I figure there will be plenty of full auto evil assault guns on the ground if TSHTF.

  13. Gary D. G. Says:

    An average of 4,000 “incidents” per year; “incidents that potentially should have been reported to the federal background-check database.” That number seems to me a little too high to be realistic.
    I think you’d be doing your readers an invaluable service were you to further elucidate these “incidents” prior to reporting such negative news about one of the branches of our Armed Services.

  14. om Says:

    Gary D:

    What’s stopping you from performing such a valuable service?

  15. assemblerhead Says:

    @ TommyJay

    Texas checks for a “Dishonorable Discharge” when a Concealed Carry application is made.

    Dishonorable Discharge == fail / no get permit.

    All branches of the military DO report a “Dishonorable Discharge”, routinely.
    Number of “DD’s” reported in the past 20 years by all branches of the military : one.

    NOTE : DD stands for “Domestic Disturbance”. Civilian version of this is “Domestic Violence”.

  16. Jamie Says:

    assemblerhead, if you’re saying what I think you are, I was thinking the same thing.

    I grew up as a military dependent, daughter of an officer, and my mom was very active in what was then called the Officers’ Wives’ Club. If my memory serves, it was just after I graduated from high school in the mid-’80s, when many of my former classmates were enlisting in the Air Force and Army, that I first became aware that domestic violence in the military was at least as widespread a problem as it was in the civilian world. I lived at home during college and was allowed to join the OWC as a sort of junior or adjunct member, and I remember that domestic violence was one of the issues or causes that the women of that OWC branch took up.

    It was considered to be especially important to provide resources, protection, etc., to the often very young wives of the lowest ranking enlisted guys (there were more and more women service members, but at that time men were still far and away in the majority in the Air Force, at least), who frequently were far from their own families and had at best a high school education, but I remember that spousal abuse in the officers’ ranks did get some time at meetings too. (Until this time, I’d had no idea that domestic violence ever happened in the military because my dad was and is both the gentlest and most moral of men; I was shocked speechless the first time I revealed my upbringing and someone said, “So you grew up like Pat Conroy, huh?”)

    I yield to no one in my admiration of the members of the armed forces. I am proud to have supported my dad by having been a properly behaved dependent of a military officer. But now, as an adult who knows that the military doesn’t often attract men (or women, I suppose) of as peaceful mien as my dad (whose military career was predominantly in helicopter rescue), I’d be foolish not to admit that any organization with a mission that involves fighting is going to have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of asking for and rewarding aggression.

    Any active duty people out there who can comment on how your service handles the management of any spillover from the aggression necessary to the mission?

  17. Jamie Says:

    Sorry, my previous comment was way too long. Shorter version: domestic violence is naturally at least as much of a problem in the military as it is in the civilian world, and for systemic reasons possibly a greater problem, but at least when I was growing up as a military dependent it was very much swept under the rug. Anyone know how it is treated now? Assemblerhead’s statistic is troubling indeed.

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