After a recent shooting at a church left 26 people dead, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of a government database used for background checks on gun purchases. This move came after news broke that the shooter should not have been allowed to buy the guns he used in the shooting.
“Sessions said the Nov. 5 shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, by Devin Kelley, a former Air Force serviceman who had a 2012 conviction for domestic assault, showed that not all the necessary information was being added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” Reuters reports.
Sessions issued a statement Wednesday saying he was directing both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “to do a comprehensive review of the NICS and report back to me the steps we can take to ensure that those who are prohibited from purchasing firearms are prevented from doing so.”
This move is seen by all as a step in the right direction. The background check system is part of a web of laws intended to keep firearms out of the hands of those with severe mental illness, issues with drug abuse, or felony convictions. Yet holes in the system clearly exist.
Devin Kelley is now the poster-child of this breakdown. Kelley was convicted by an Air Force court-martial in 2012. He’d assaulted his wife and stepson. The history of domestic violence alone was enough to keep Kelley from owning firearms, yet the conviction was not reported by the Air Force. The conviction was meant to be passed on to the FBI’s criminal database.
Kelley was able to buy guns in a store in Texas in 2016 and 2017.
In the weeks since the shooting, reports show numerous gaps in the system that bridges the gap between civilian and military databases.
With that in mind, Sessions has ordered this review. In addition to the review by the FBI and ATF, The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee will investigate the Air Force’s lapse in reporting.