Top Republicans in the Congress raised questions on Tuesday about the failure of the Air Force to send information to the gun sale background check system about the man who killed 26 people at a Texas church on Sunday, with one GOP lawmaker wondering out loud whether the failure to report domestic violence matters may be a broader issue for the military in general.
“News that the Air Force failed to notify the FBI of Devin Kelly’s military criminal record is appalling,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“Furthermore, I am concerned that the failure to properly report domestic violence convictions may be a systemic issue,” Thornberry added.
“We’ve got all these questions for the Air Force right now,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, “which is how did this slip through the cracks?”
“How is it that this person – who was convicted of domestic abuse by the Air Force – how did he get through the system and get a gun?” Ryan said to reporters.
Democrats also wanted to know how the paperwork mishap occurred.
“DOD must determine why Air Force failed to add gunman's conviction to background check database – and take action to prevent future errors.,” tweeted Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who also wondered how many other similar cases go unreported by the various military branches.
“I urge you to take immediate action to ensure that all relevant indictments and convictions in military courts are reported to the Department of Justice in a consistent and timely manner,” Blumenthal wrote in a letter to the Secretary of Defense.
The Air Force has already launched an internal review to see what happened with Kelley’s record, and why information was not submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.
The Texas sporting goods store that sold firearms to Kelley in 2016 and 2017 reported on Tuesday that the sales were approved by the gun check system.
In a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said she had been told that the entire Department of Defense had only submitted “just a single misdemeanor conviction” to the instant background check system in the month of December 2016.