Air Force 'Error' That Possibly Led to Shooting Needs More Than 'Review'

FILE - The Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington, in this March 27, 2008 file photo. The Pentagon has revised its Law of War guidelines to remove wording that could permit U.S. military commanders to treat war correspondents as “unprivileged belligerents” if they think the journalists are sympathizing or cooperating with enemy forces. The amended manual, published on July 22, 2016, also drops wording that equated journalism with spying. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

The U.S. Air Force admitted that human error allowed Devin Kelley to purchase the guns he used to kill at least 26 people at a Texas church on Sunday. The damning revelation raises questions further adds to the argument against more gun control measures, since the ones already in place aren’t even being enforced.


Kelley reportedly had a semi-automatic rifle and three handguns in his possession, which, in and of itself was not illegal. However, the Air Force admitted Monday that Air Force bureaucrats failed to enter Kelley’s previous charges, which would have prevented him from purchasing the weapons, into the federal database.

According to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek:

Federal law prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after this conviction. Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations.

Stefanek added that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein “directed a completed review of the Kelley case by the Air Force Office of the Inspector General.”

“The Service will also conduct a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly. The Air Force has also requested that the Department of Defense Inspector General review records and procedures across the Department of Defense,” Stefanek said.


Kelley pleaded guilty in 2012 to a domestic abuse charge. Kelley received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military after admitting to abusing his wife and young stepson. The New York Times reported that the child, a toddler, suffered a cracked skull from the altercation.

Then, in 2014, Kelley was arrested in Colorado for animal cruelty. Also that year, deputies in Texas responded to Kelley’s home after reports of a separate domestic dispute, the San Antonio Express News reported.

Despite Kelley’s questionable past, he was allowed to purchase at least four guns from 2014-2017.

The military should have used Kelley’s prior convictions to add Kelley’s name to a federal database, which would have made it harder for Kelley to purchase weapons. That never happened, though, and because of what the Air Force called a “bureaucratic error,” 26 innocent people, including one 18-month-old child, are now dead.

The Air Force must do more than a “review” to get to the bottom of how this happened. Heads at the very highest levels of our military should roll over this massive failure.

I am a supporter of our military. My father was in the Air Force and served in Vietnam. Both of my grandfathers also served their country, one in the Air Force and the other in the Navy. My cousin spent months in Iraq last year. I know that those who serve our country make tremendous sacrifices to do so, but this is simply unacceptable. Our military members should be in the service to save Americans’ lives, not contribute to the reasons why more Americans are dead.


It’s an honor to serve this country. Service should be reserved for the best among us. Those who failed to add Kelley’s name to the federal database are not the best America has to offer.

Our nation’s military is better than this. Whoever is responsible should resign or be fired.



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