Tuesday, November 07, 2017


We know that Devin Patrick Kelley's military conviction for domestic violence didn't prevent him from passing gun background checks. This is being described as a failure on the part of the Air Force, although we're being told that failure to report domestic violence is routine in the military:
A scan of active records shows that the Department of Defense has just a single misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence on file with the National Criminal Instant Background Check System, or NICS.
In part, this is because the military doesn't convict servicemembers of domestic violence specifically:
... the military has no distinct charge for domestic violence, notes Grover Baxley, a former judge advocate general who now practices military law as a civilian. “We see this all the time,” Baxley said. “There is no specific domestic violence article.” Instead, military prosecutors charge abusers with other offenses, like assault.
So it's all the fault of the Air Force -- right? And we can all agree on that, even gun control opponents like the right-wing media -- right?

Well, the story just got a little more complicated:
The gunman who killed 26 people in a rural Texas church on Sunday escaped from a psychiatric hospital while he was in the Air Force, after making death threats against his superiors and trying to smuggle weapons onto the base where he was stationed, a 2012 police report shows.

Police took the man, Devin P. Kelley, into custody at a bus station in downtown El Paso, where he apparently planned to flee on a bus after escaping from Peak Behavioral Health Services, a hospital a few miles away in Santa Teresa, N.M. He was sent there after being charged in a military court with assaulting his wife and baby stepson, charges he later pleaded guilty to.

The report filed by the El Paso officers says that the person who reported Mr. Kelley missing from the hospital advised them that he “suffered from mental disorders,” and that he “was attempting to carry out death threats” against “his military chain of command.” The man “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base,” it added.
So the military failed to provide information to the NICS about the domestic violence conviction and the mental illness diagnosis and the hospitalization and the escape and the death threats and the efforts to sneak guns onto the base. Nice.

So it's a really serious screw-up. But it's all the military's fault, isn't it? Not entirely, as we learn from Houston TV station KPRC:
The final page of the [incident] report states that there was an entry submitted to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.
You can read the incident report here. The story is there on the report's last page -- the escape, the sneaking of firearms onto the base, the death threats. But we're also told, as the KPRC story notes, that the El Paso police surrendered Kelley to New Mexico cops:
Kelley was released to police officers from Sunland Park Police Department in New Mexico, located just across the state line. Peak Behavioral Health Services [the facility from which Kelley escaped] is located a few miles from Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
So we don't know what the El Paso police reported to NICS. Maybe it was only the bare facts of his appearance in El Paso. And then the Sunland Park cops also failed to do a full report. And so did the military.

A lot of people dropped the ball, and now 26 people are dead.

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