By: Kaylah Jackson
As with many of the horrendous shootings that have occurred in the country, conversation about gun control continues to arise and many people are asking how was Patrick Kelley, an Air Force veteran who received a bad conduct discharge and 12 months of confinement able to purchase a gun.
“They didn’t make the proper reports and as a result of that, this guy bought a weapon and he killed people with it–that’s causation. Could he have gotten a weapon a different way? We’ll never know because he got it this way. Because of the Air force’s failure, he got this weapon. He walked in and got it off the street,” said Butch Bracknell.
Kelley served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his 2014. According to Retired JAG Officer, Butch Bracknell, this is a direct result of a human error within the Air Force.
“If people wanna get upset about a sentencing, they should move directly from Bergdhal over to this case…12 months for fracturing a child’s skull just blows my mind, that was the result of a plea. I think in other services there’s no way. The Air Force does a fraction of the number of cases annual that the Marine Corps does, ” said Bracknell.
Brucknell believes if Kelley was in the Marine Corps, he would have received a much stronger consequence. Instead, Kelley was charged with count of assault on his spouse and another count of assault on their child according to Spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. He was court martialled in 2012 and kicked out on a bad-conduct discharge two years later.
Brucknell also says that bad conduct discharge and dishonorable discharges, although difficult to distinguish, have to do more with the psychological effect but as a result of both, Kelley wouldn’t receive any Veteran Affairs benefits.
“I think that most people perceive a dishonorable discharge because of the power term–it’s dishonorable–as the worst thing ever, whereas the bad conduct discharge you can kind of explain as ‘yeah I got into a little trouble while I was in the military,'” he said.
Kelley open fired on the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday, killing 26 people. Authorities say the 26-year-old fired at least 450 rounds before two armed men confronted and chased him. Kelley was shot by his pursuers and authorities say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Brucknell believes the Air Force has some “soul searching” to do and suspects he is going to find other instances where similar cases were not reported properly. Information about convictions of military personnel for crimes such as assault should be submitted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division, in accordance with the rules of the Pentagon.
U.S. Code 922 states it is unlawful for any person to sell or dispose any firearm or ammunition to any person who is known or believed to be discharged from the Armed forces under dishonorable conditions and who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
As a result, the Department of Defense has requested the DoD Inspector General, in concert with the Air Force, review the handling of Airman Devin Kelley’s criminal records after his 2012 domestic violence convictions.
The investigation should determine whether information about Kelley’s conviction was properly entered into the National Criminal Information Center database as well as ensuring relevant policies and procedures to ensure records from other cases across DoD have been reported correctly.