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Air force error allowed Texas shooter to buy guns despite conviction

FBI agents search the grounds of the First Baptist Church after a gunman killed 26 people during Sunday services in Sutherland Springs, Texas
SUZANNE CORDEIRO (AFP)

A domestic violence conviction legally prohibited the Texas church shooter from buying guns, but the Air Force failed to enter it into a database used to run background checks, officials said Monday.

Devin Kelley -- who shot dead 26 people at a Texas church -- could therefore have passed the background check required to buy a gun, which would have raised red flags if the conviction had been properly entered.

"Initial information indicates that (Devin) Kelley's domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations," Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said in a statement.

The database is one of three that are checked as part of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which licensed dealers are legally required to use to perform background checks under the 1993 Brady Act, aimed at reducing handgun violence.

While licensed dealers have to conduct checks, private sellers do not -- a major loophole in current regulations that allows purchases to be made, including at massive gun shows and online, without scrutiny of the buyer.

Kelley was convicted by a court-martial in 2012 of  "two charges of domestic assault against his wife and step-son," which meant that under federal law, he was "prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after this conviction," Stefanek said.

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Human failure is more often than not the problem and not weapon per se.

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