Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 people at a church on Sunday, was able to purchase firearms because the Air Force failed to provide information regarding Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the database used to conduct federal background checks for gun-related purchases. Federal officials confirmed the data was not provided, even though it is required by Pentagon rules.
As reported by AP News, Federal officials confirmed details about Kelley’s conviction were not submitted by the Air Force according to Pentagon procedure.
The Pentagon requires that information regarding any assault-related convictions of military personnel be submitted to the Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division of the FBI, who would add the details to the database.
An initial examination shows that Kelley’s conviction was not added to the federal database by Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigation officials, where the court-martial took place.
Kelley, 26, has a prior conviction for assault, based on an Air Force court-martial in 2012, for abusing his wife and stepson. According to Fox News, Kelley was guilty of “intentionally” fracturing his infant stepson’s skull along with assaulting his then-wife.
He was also charged with animal cruelty in 2014 in a separate incident.
After being found guilty, Kelley was given 12 months’ confinement, had his rank reduced to E-1, and was ultimately discharged for “bad conduct” in 2014. That same year, according to authorities, Kelley was able to purchase a firearm.
According to the Lautenberg Amendment, which was enacted by Congress in 1996, anyone convicted on felony or misdemeanor level domestic violence charges is prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms.
Kelley reportedly owned four guns, three of which he had with him during the attack on the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This included a Ruger AR-15 that was reportedly used in the church and two handguns found in Kelley’s car.
Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman, stated in an email that a review of the service’s handling of Kelley’s case is being launched and that additional reviews will determine if any other cases were not reported according to Pentagon procedure.
According to a report by the Pentagon inspector general in 2015, lapses in the military’s reporting of domestic violence convictions to civilian authorities were discovered.