U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- Months after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed, the United States Air Force has reconsidered and produced a report of trial for court-martial proceedings against Devin Patrick Kelley, the man identified by authorities as the killer responsible for murdering more than two dozen people in the Sutherlands Springs, TX, church shooting.
Attorney Stephen Stamboulieh filed the complaint on my behalf in response to government refusal to provide documents that are “releasable for a deceased individual” after the FBI “unexpectedly… clamped down on the court martial transcripts.”
“The question is…. why?” Stamboulieh asserted at the time of the complaint. “It is most likely undisputed that Kelley was a prohibited person that bought firearms when he shouldn't have been able to, but why keep the underlying information secret?”
I submitted the initial request and followed up with the complaint because gun owners deserve full and complete disclosure — especially with the killing being exploited to enact further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. We have a vested interest in seeing the extent of what government already knew about Kelley yet failed to act on. In the face of resistance to our request, we were compelled to make the seriousness of that expectation known in no uncertain terms.
“Pretty amazing stuff in here,” Stamboulieh remarked on seeing the trial record, embedded below. “No question he was a prohibited person after this.”
Stamboulieh is correct: There is no question that Kelley was legally a prohibited person, forbidden by law to have a gun. He also appears, from prior disciplinary records included in the production, to have been a serial goofball, unable to stay out of trouble or to accept responsibility for it.
The refusal to comply with the FOIA, forcing the filing of a complaint to obtain requested documents, points to a desire to cover up a record that shows the Air Force knew his crimes rose to the level of required reporting. (An attached motion alleging “illegal pretrial confinement and punishment” is also something they probably weren’t eager to see come to light).
This was clearly a damaged, a violent, and of relevance, a guilty young man, and as we’ve seen in similar cases, the government knew about him. They nonetheless failed to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, allowing the killer to purchase firearms from a Federal Firearms Licensee without the system flagging him.
What this and similar reporting failures acting as catalysts for “Fix NICS” and other legislation fail to account for is that ultimately, being a “prohibited person” cannot stop anyone so inclined from obtaining a gun. If it could, we wouldn’t see regular headlines about “gun violence” from places like Chicago.
Anyone who can’t be trusted with a gun (as determined with full due process) can’t be trusted without a custodian. No “gun control” laws or record reporting enhancements can change that reality. Allowing proven violent people access to an unlimited pool of potential victims before they have made clinically verifiable behavioral changes, penance and restitution (to prove they can be given a second chance) makes as much sense as telling a man-eating tiger its sentence is up and then opening the cage.
And it will produce the same results.
Until we as a society come to grips with that, the “fixes” will be more Band-Aids and security theater, and the catastrophic failures will provide more impetus to demand edicts where none of us will be trusted with guns.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.