After Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and killed 26 parishioners, an investigation into the incident showed the Air Force had court-martialed the shooter a few years ago following a domestic violence conviction. Kelley not only assaulted his ex-wife, he also fractured the skull of his infant stepson.
It later emerged the Air Force had failed to enter Kelley’s conviction record into the FBI National Crime Information Center database — a move that would have prevented him from buying the guns he later used to commit the massacre.
At the time, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the officials would conduct a review to make sure all records in such cases are added correctly.
Well, the results from a preliminary review are in and they are certainly not satisfying.
As it turns out, what happened with Kelley was not an isolated incident — Air Force officials reportedly failed properly report military criminal history of dozens of its service members to the national background check database.
“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 instances since 2002 where officials should have submitted the records to the FBI. The Air Force said it is now reviewing all of those cases and submitting the unreported convictions to the database.
It is not clear if the “several dozen” records the officials said they failed to report were found after reviewing all 60,000 cases or just a few hundred.
However, to make sure the reports are now being submitted, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations has been ordered to print out or take a screenshot of a confirmation from the FBI, revealed Stefanek, who also clarified it will take months to complete the review.
Meanwhile, rather than blaming its seemingly flawed reporting procedures, the authorities are pointing toward “training and compliance” gaps to justify the lapse.
“It was a leadership oversight,” an Air Force spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “Now we are ensuring that different levels of leadership are involved and mandating compliance.”
Kelley was not the first mass shooter who managed to slip through the cracks in the system and legally purchase firearms despite not being able eligible.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Jonathan Bachman