What to know about Devin Patrick Kelley and gun laws


On Sunday, Devin Patrick Kelley, a 26-year-old New Braunfels resident, shot and killed at least 26 people during a service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs near San Antonio.

Here’s what we know about Kelley and how he was able to purchase the assault rifle used in the attack:

1.) The family of one of Kelley’s ex-wives attended the church, according to the Wilson County sheriff. They were not in attendance on Sunday.

2.) While in the Air Force, Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his child and then-wife. After serving a year in military prison, Kelley was discharged for bad conduct.

3.) Kelley’s conviction should have prevented him from being able to purchase an assault rifle, but the Air Force failed to report his criminal record to the FBI, according to the Associated Press.

Kelley in April 2016 purchased a Ruger AR-556 rifle at an Academy Sports + Outdoors in San Antonio. He should have failed a federal background check during that purchase because of his military record, said former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who in 1995 authored Texas’ concealed handgun license law.

Geoffrey Corn, a professor of military law at the South Texas College of Law Houston, said that based on the offense Kelley was convicted of in military court — an Article 128 family assault charge — he almost certainly would have fallen under the prohibition against felons purchasing or possessing firearms.

Military courts do not classify offenses as misdemeanors or felonies, but an Article 128 conviction in almost all cases would correspond to a felony. Corn said his conviction under military law also should have prohibited him from purchasing body armor.

4.) The federal background check system also failed to prevent the perpetrators of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech University and the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston from buying guns, Patterson said. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System should have stopped the shooters in those incidents from getting guns, although for different reasons: Charleston shooter Dylan Roof had a felony drug conviction, and Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho had been deemed mentally ill by a judge.

“What I would suggest is the NICS database is not complete and its not updated quickly enough,” Patterson said. “We may very well have a lack of interface between the military convictions and the civilian convictions.”

5.) Kelley was denied a Texas handgun license, according to Abbott. Being denied a Texas gun license, however, would not have prevented him from purchasing or carrying the assault rifle. That’s because Texas is essentially a “constitutional carry” state when it comes to “long guns,” meaning people can openly carry assault rifles without a special permit.

6.) Kelley has a history of mental illness, according to Abbott. “It’s clear this is a person who had violent tendencies, who had some challenges and someone who was a powder keg waiting to go off,” the governor said.



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