(National Sentinel) Gun Control: Following the mass shooting of worshippers at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Texas on Sunday, Democrats and liberals are once again calling for “sensible gun laws” — which essentially equates into more gun control.
However, the shooter, Devin Kelley, should not have been able to purchase the AR-15-style weapon he used to murder more than 26 people under existing gun laws, noted Amy Swearer, a visiting legal fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
Writing in The Daily Signal, Swearer notes that while the Second Amendment guarantees American citizens the “right to keep and bear arms” — an interpretation that has repeatedly been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — gun ownership is still subject to restrictions.
The dominant federal law for purposes of firearm restrictions is 18 U.S.C. §922(g), which bars the possession of firearms by nine different categories of individuals, including: those convicted in any court of a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment; those dishonorably discharged from the military; those subject to a restraining order against an intimate partner or child; and those convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
The only way for these individuals to legally possess a weapon is to have their firearm rights explicitly restored by the jurisdiction in which they were convicted [18 U.S.C. § (a)(33)(A)(ii)].
Those convicted in state courts are subject to gun restoration rights and processes in those states.
“Roughly half of states allow for restoration of firearm rights only through a gubernatorial pardon. States like Iowa and California do not allow restoration of firearm rights for certain offenses, even with a pardon,” Swearer wrote.
“Other states will automatically restore firearm rights after a certain number of years without another offense, and still others, like Texas, will automatically restore a limited right to possess only a handgun and only in the home.”
However, those convicted in federal or military courts of disqualifying crimes can only have their rights restored via federal law, and while “federal law technically affords a mechanism of application for the restoration of these rights, Congress has not funded this mechanism since 1992,” she noted.
Based on what is currently known about Kelley, he was court-martialed by the Air Force in 2012 and sentenced to 12 months confinement in a military prison for assaulting his wife and child, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 128. He received a bad conduct from the service in 2014.
And yet, Kelley managed to purchase four firearms after his conviction, including the rifle he used to commit his heinous murders Sunday. On his background check application, he indicated he did not have any disqualifying criminal history and listed his address as Colorado Springs, Colo.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, citing the Texas Department of Public Safety, noted that Kelley at one point applied for and was denied a state license to carry weapons. It is unclear whether this occurred before or after Kelley purchased the Ruger, or for what reason the application was denied.
In Texas, long guns may be carried openly without a license, while a “license to carry” is required for handguns carried in any manner. Licenses are issued on a nondiscretionary, “shall-issue” basis. This means the Texas Department of Public Safety may only deny licenses to those who do not meet statutory criteria for eligibility.
Further, Texas law prohibits the possession and licensing of firearms for anyone found guilty in any jurisdiction of domestic violence misdemeanors or their equivalent.
In other words, Kelley should not have been able to purchase any of his weapons.
“This shooting appears to have been preventable under existing state and federal statutes. Sunday’s reign of terror should never have happened,” she concludes. “Many times, as this shooting indicates, the best way to stop this type of evil is not to impose more laws, but to better enforce current ones.”
Update: The Washington Free Beacon is reporting this morning that the Air Force failed to share Kelley’s conviction and discharge information with the FBI, which helps explain why it didn’t show up when gun stores performed the mandatory background check, which uses an FBI database to ensure gun buyers are not prevented by law from owning guns.
“Initial information indicates that 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,” Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokesperson, told the Washington Free Beacon.
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