Air Force Clerical SNAFU Allowed Sutherland Springs Killer To Buy Guns

Sunday’s tragedy in Sutherland Springs is the epitome of senseless violence. So many dead, so many wounded. It’s the kind of thing where all on its own it makes you wonder if anything could be done to pretend this kind of thing.


Anti-gun activists think they have the answer. They have a myriad of new regulations they want to ram down people’s throats, just like they always do when they use the bodies of the deceased as their soapbox. However, this time there was a law that actually could have prevented this tragedy. The thing is, it’s already on the books.

The Air Force admitted that the problem was on their end. They failed to upload the killer’s conviction into the NICS.

This fact was initially revealed in a draft statement that was inadvertently released to reporters. The Air Force admitted that after an investigation, it was discovered that the conviction was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center as it should have been.

This enabled Kelley to pass a background check and purchase an AR-15, which he used to kill 26 people at the church. Kelley had spent a year in jail for domestic violence and had been court-martialed.

This is astounding. What’s the use of having a federal database of this kind of violent offenders if the crimes are never actually entered? Further, how many other people who have been convicted of a crime that would disqualify them from firearm ownership have not been entered into the correct database?



It’s a fair question. After all, a large number of people convicted of violent offenses become violent again.

More importantly, in my mind, is that whether you agree with a law or not, it should be followed and in this case, the law wasn’t. This killer was able to purchase weapons through otherwise legal means despite the fact that he should have been flagged during the background check. It’s likely no one who knew him in Texas was aware of his past while he was in the Air Force, so no one knew him owning guns was illegal.

It may also explain why he was turned down for a Texas concealed handgun licenses since those investigations do not use the NICS but instead do something more akin to a regular criminal background check. However, since it’s apparently not illegal to apply for a CHL while disqualified, there was no action to be taken.

It’s worth noting that applying for a CHL does not automatically mean you have a gun. Some people get the permit, then purchase a firearm.

Of all the senseless tragedies, this one may be the most heartbreaking because it didn’t have to be that way. Had the information been handled correctly, this killer would have tried to buy a gun and been denied.


Then again, as with any case, a homicidal heart tends to not be denied. He may well have used something else and been even more deadly. We’ll never truly know.

But we do know that a clerical breakdown in the existing law allowed this maniac to buy guns. It’s evidence that we don’t need new gun laws. We just need to make sure the ones we have are utilized correctly, and that starts with all the relevant information being input into the NICS.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member