WTVM Editorial 11/15/17: Gun laws

(WTVM) - It's been more than a week since the small Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas was targeted by gunman Devin Kelley.

It's been widely reported that after Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force that they neglected to alert the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms that Kelley was not legally able to own guns.

It was a major oversight, and that is a major understatement. When Kelley went to buy guns, the information that he was guilty and served time for domestic violence should have been readily apparent in any background check and quickly banned from gun ownership.

Kelley also should have been disqualified for being involuntarily committed due to mental health issues - another huge red flag rendered invisible because it was never reported to the ATF.

The fact that it was not reported directly led to Kelley killing 26 innocents trapped inside the church.

In a tragic twist, 12 of the dead were connected to the Air Force because of nearby Lackland Air Force Base.

Now the Air Force is investigating why Kelley's disqualifying information was never passed on to the gun-buying database.

Better late than never, but we shouldn't stop there. Every branch of the service and every police or reporting agency needs to go back and make sure that type of information on anyone else has not slipped through the cracks. It must be quickly passed on so that the law can be followed.

There is no excuse for not reporting convictions for domestic abuse to the background databases.

Accurate background checks do work to keep guns out of the hands of the violent.

But that assumes the responsible agencies do their job and properly report these convictions. Doing anything thing less is simply unacceptable.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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