After large-scale tragedies the quest to prevent the next mass shooting begins.

In the case of the Sutherland Springs shooting, the federal government’s failure to properly report Devin Kelley’s violent past may have allowed him to possess weapons to which he should not have had legal access.

Kelly, an Air Force veteran, had been court-martialed in 2012 for domestic abuse charges. He had beaten his wife and fractured the skull of his infant step-son.

As USA Today reported, that conviction ought to have prevented Kelley from legally purchase fire arms, but thanks to an Air Force reporting error, Kelley was able to purchase weapons.

But in the Texas case, the veteran who killed 26 people and wounded 20 others shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun legally because of a violent crime conviction on his military record, a fact that the Air Force failed to relay to the FBI background-check system.

That has given GOP lawmakers an opportunity they can use to show they’re acting on the tragedy, even if it’s just to push government agencies to follow laws already on the books.

Devin Kelley had been convicted by a military court for beating his infant stepson. That conviction should have barred him from buying weapons. But the Air Force never flagged the offense in the National Criminal Information Center database.

The federal database may have failed, but when Kelley sought a license to cary a gun (which type of license has not been released), the state of Texas denied his request.

The Hill has more:

“Current law, as it exists right now, should have prevented him from being able to get a gun,” Abbott told “CBS This Morning.”

“I can tell you that before he made this purchase, he tried to get a gun permit in the state of Texas and was denied that permit.”

Abbott did not say when the permit was denied, nor did he cite the reasons why, saying only that it was due to “either answers, or the lack thereof, that were provided in his request.” Because Texas does not require a permit to purchase or own firearms, Abbott’s reference appears to be to a request to carry a gun.
Twenty-six churchgoers were killed, and at least 20 others injured, during Sunday’s shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a small town about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

When it comes to preventing “the next Sutherland”, the compulsion to “do something” as is always the demand is admirable, but what does that look like?

Back to USA Today:

“How about enforcing the laws we’ve got on the books?” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Tuesday after he was asked how to stop gun violence if he wasn’t willing to support gun control legislation. “This man should not have gotten a gun, you know why? Because he was a domestic abuser. We have laws on the books that says if you’re a domestic abuser you’re not supposed to own a gun.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas announced Tuesday that he was introducing a bill to try and encourage federal agencies — including military services — to put all convictions in the system.

“Because there was no record of it, (Kelley) was able to lie his way into getting these firearms. This is very clearly a problem, and the Air Force has now admitted that Kelley’s conviction should have barred him from ever purchasing or possessing firearms,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“There are enormous problems with the background check system … this is one of those areas of consensus on a very contentious topic,” Cornyn said.

As NRO’s Charles C.W. Cooke notes, Kelley ought not have been free to roam the streets after beating the daylights out of his family.

The system failed. One tiny bureaucratic error led to the loss of 26 lives. But the bureaucracy didn’t pull the trigger, Kelley did. Any system is only as reliable as it’s weakest point and there’s simply no way of eradicating human or even technology malfunction and error.

We have laws designed to prevent men exactly like Kelley from committing heinous crimes. Sometimes those laws are deterrent enough, in this case, they weren’t. And as long as we’ve been a nation, murder has been a capital offense, yet murders are a daily occurrence.

I don’t know why bad things happen. I don’t understand why good, innocent people are snuffed out before what we believe ‘their time’ ought to be. But I do know that laws, as many of them as we wish to pass, will never change the heart. Neither do laws possess the ability to cure evil.

We live in a fallen world where evil abounds, where people make mistakes on paperwork, and where the best of us depart too soon. In none of these instances is government any use.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye