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By Donna Westfall – November 8, 2017 – Photo credit to Getty Images –

Did you know that according to military rules, if a service person has a history of domestic violence, their criminal records are to be sent to the FBI?  If the FBI has that person in their files, then that person is unable to buy guns.

Rules are oftentimes dropped through the cracks. The most recent gun violence tragedy involved First Baptist Church in Sutherland Spring, Texas. Gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley only 26 years old,  fired over 450 rounds at the church and into the congregation which resulted in 26 dead.  The dead ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old.  A horrible tragedy for that small town of 400.  Among those killed were Annabelle Pomeroy, the Pastor’s daughter.

About 20 people were wounded, 10 of them still in critical condition. He was using a Ruger AR-556 assault-type rifle. The Office of Special Investigations admitted they failed to enter the domestic violence case into the database that would have made it illegal for him to buy a gun.  Rules required by the Pentagon and federal law mandates. Last year he walked into an Austin, Texas gun shop and passed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  He then purchased two guns; the assault-type rifle in 2016 and another gun in 2017 .

What is domestic violence?

It is a pattern of abusive behaviors – including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks as well as economic coercion – that adults and adolescents use against an intimate or dating partner.  It is characterized by one partner’s need to control the other by use of a range of tactics.

In Kelly’s case, he was expelled from the Air Force for choking his ex-wife in 2012, and hitting her son, his step-son, hard enough to fracture his skull. There were multiple instances of assault both in 2011 and 2012. He served a year in confinement after a court marshal on two charges of assault.

So, the signs of domestic violence and abuse were there. The laws to protect the public and prevent perpetrators of domestic violence from purchasing fire arms fell through the cracks.

What happened to Kelley?

When Kelley stopped firing into the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and exchanged gunfire.  He was identified as Stephen Williford.  Another local resident was driving his truck by when Williford asked him for a lift to follow Kelley. Their pursuit reached speeds of 90 mph.  Kelley’s car crashed.  Williford walked over, gun in hand, and saw that Kelley was dead. Police arrived within five minutes.

Kelley sustained 3 gunshot wounds.  One in the leg, one in the torso and one in the head, which was self-inflicted.




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