U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, plans to introduce legislation aimed at ensuring all federal agencies upload required conviction records into the national Instant Criminal Background Check system, a step he says would have prevented Sutherland Springs gunman Devin Kelley from purchasing firearms.
Kelley, a 26-year-old who was booted from the Air Force on a bad-conduct discharge, should have been barred from purchasing or owning a weapon because of a conviction for domestic abuse in which he assaulted his wife and fractured his son’s skull.
However, the Air Force has confirmed that his conviction was never reported to the database, which enabled him to purchase four firearms from 2014 through 2017.
“As each new detail emerges from what is still an ongoing investigation, we need to study the whole puzzle, ask ourselves how did this happen, why so many lives were lost and what if anything could have been done to prevent it,” Cornyn said.
“According to the Department of Justice, the number of these records that are actually uploaded is staggeringly low. That is unacceptable and it must change,” Cornyn said. “We need to better understand why our existing laws didn’t work in this instance and that’s what my proposed legislation will do.”
Cornyn co-sponsored a bill in 2016 that authorized law enforcement agencies to use the federal Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grant funds to pay for the active-shooter training, which was not previously allowed.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $5.4 million COPS grant for Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Integrated Response Training Program, which provides active shooter response training to law enforcement professionals and other first responders across the nation.
“In the face of tragedy and chaos, time and time again we’ve seen first responders act quickly and decisively to restore order and safety,” Cornyn said. “It is critical that we continue to give law enforcement, fire, and EMS officials every available resource to keep our communities safe, and this will go a long way in training first responders across the nation to respond to active shooter situations.”