Turns Out the Air Force Is Woefully Incompetent at Reporting Service Members to the FBI's Gun Database

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

If the U.S. Air Force had reported Devin Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the federal gun background check database as it is required to do, then he would have likely been prevented from purchasing the rifles he used to slaughter 26 people at a church in Texas earlier this month. However, Kelley’s conviction was not reported—and the Air Force admitted on Tuesday that its failure to do so in Kelley’s case was not an isolated incident.


The Air Force found several dozen cases in which a service member’s serious conviction was not reported after reviewing cases similar to Kelley’s. “The error in the Kelley case was not an isolated incident and similar reporting lapses occurred at other locations,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking.”

Kelley served at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. He was convicted of domestic assault for fracturing his stepson’s skull and attacking his wife in 2014. After spending a year in a military brig in San Diego, CA, Kelley was received a bad-conduct discharge from the Air Force.

Because his crimes were not documented, which the Air Force acknowledged, Kelley passed a federal background check and was able to purchase the weapons he would later use in Sutherland Springs, TX, from a gun store.

There are currently 30 investigators sifting through 60,000 cases similar to Kelley’s, however the Air Force was unable to provide an exact estimate on how many were not reported. Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman, said that the review would take months.

Joe and Claryce Holcombe, who lost eight family members in the Suntherland Springs massacre, have sued the Air Force for its incompetence. Their lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, the same day the Air Force acknowledged its systemic—and fatal—reporting failures.

Night Editor, Splinter