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Texas church shooting suspect's military conviction should have prevented firearms purchase, official says

November 06, 2017 - 2:20 pm
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(SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas) -- Devin Kelley, the gunman accused of carrying out Sunday’s deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was convicted by a military court in 2012 on charges of assault and aggravated assault on his then-wife and a child, which should have prevented him from purchasing firearms, an Air Force official said Monday.

Kelley was in the U.S. Air Force from January 2010 to May 2014, serving mainly at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, military records show.

He was convicted in 2012 on two charges of assault and aggravated assault with seven specifications under the Uniform Code of Military Justice's Article 128, the official said.

Kelley was tried that year in a general court martial and found guilty by a mixed jury of officers and enlisted personnel. He was sentenced to a year's confinement, a reduction in two ranks from an airman first-class (A1C) to airman basic and received a bad conduct discharge.

Kelley began serving his military confinement Nov. 7, 2012, at the Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar near San Diego. He was discharged from military service and confinement in May 2014.

Prior to his conviction, Kelley had served at Holloman AFB in New Mexico as a traffic maintenance apprentice before he became a prisoner.

As part of his conviction, Kelley received a bad conduct discharge but not a dishonorable discharge that automatically prevents a former military service member from purchasing a firearm.

But regardless of the kind of discharge he received, the Air Force official said, Kelley's conviction on charges that equated to domestic violence should have prevented him from purchasing a firearm.

That is because the military services are in compliance with the Lautenberg Amendment passed in 1996. Among other things, that amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act prevents civilians or military personnel convicted of a domestic violence charge from purchasing firearms.

Kelley's conviction on the assault charges against his then-wife and a child count as domestic violence charges.

The Air Force complies with the Lautenberg Amendment through Air Force Instruction (AFI) 51201.

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