When liberals demand more gun control, one retort from conservatives is that we should first enforce the plethora of laws now on the books.
A federal judge apparently agrees, in holding the U.S. Air Force largely responsible for one of the most horrific mass shootings in recent history.
In November 2017, Air Force veteran Devin Patrick Kelley walked into the Sunday service of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and opened fire.
He murdered 25 worshippers, including a pregnant woman, using an AR-556 rifle. He reportedly fired 700 rounds in an 11-minute shooting spree.
Kelley was stopped when an armed passerby, Stephen Willeford, a local NRA instructor, confronted him and shot Kelley twice. Willeford and another bystander pursued him as Kelley fled the murder scene. Kelley eventually ran off the highway and killed himself.
The victims’ families sued, and on Wednesday U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez I Texas said the Air Force was to blame.
Kelley served in the military in New Mexico, and in 2012 he was court-martialed for a domestic violence charge. Found guilty, he was handed a bad conduct discharged and served a year behind bars.
Yet he was able to buy guns, including the murder weapon used in the massacre, from four licensed dealers.
According to CNBC, that’s because the Air Force failed to file Kelley’s domestic violence conviction in a federal database that, when those dealers performed background checks, would have flagged him as ineligible to buy a firearm.
CNBC noted, “Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, people convicted of a misdemeanor crime involving domestic violence are prohibited from owning firearms.”
You read that right: Kelley would have been blocked from buying a gun under a law passed nearly a half-century before the shooting, and 23 years before Kelley was born.
“Had the Government done its job and properly reported Kelley’s information into the background check system – it is more likely than not that Kelley would have been deterred from carrying out the Church shooting,” Judge Rodriguez wrote in his ruling, which held the Air Force 60 percent responsible for the murders, CNBC reported.
“For these reasons,” Rodriguez added, “the Government bears significant responsibility for the Plaintiffs’ harm.”
“USAF agents and leadership had an obligation – and multiple opportunities – to ensure that Kelley’s fingerprints and criminal history were submitted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (“CJIS”) Division for inclusion in its databases,” Rodriguez wrote.
As Tom Knighton, a columnist for BearingArms.com, a pro-Second Amendment website noted, “There’s no guarantee that the shooting still wouldn’t have happened even if the Air Force had done everything correctly. We have no reason to assume he couldn’t have had someone else buy him a weapon or have purchased one on the black market.”
“But we do know that he bought them at gun stores under his own name, something he shouldn’t have been allowed to do,” he added.
In other words, it’s possible the shooting could have been prevented if the Air Force had only followed laws we already have.
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