More details have emerged from the investigation into the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX.
Apparently, the state of Texas denied Devin Kelley, the shooter, a license to carry a gun, but that would not have prevented him from purchasing a gun if he passed muster with the federal background check. He only passed muster, it seems, because the Air Force neglected to report his conviction of domestic assault and prison term to the federal authorities. Had the Air Force followed the law and reported Kelley’s conviction, he would not have passed the background check, and would not have legally been able to purchase the guns he used in the attack on the church. You can pass all the laws in the world, but they are useless when they’re not enforced.
Both sides of the gun control debate agree that gun laws are not being enforced. Devin Kelley lied on his application to purchase the AR 556 rifle he bought in San Antonio when he reported no reason he could not purchase a gun. Apparently, a lot of people refuse to reveal, or flat out lie when asked, if there are any such obstacles. When the background check comes back reporting that this person is blocked from purchasing a gun, they are rarely prosecuted for the crime of lying on the form.
Of course, Kelley passed his background check because the Air Force dropped the ball.
Investigators have also revealed a likely motive. Kelley had been convicted of abusing his wife and step-son in 2014. His former mother-in-law attended First Baptist Church, and authorities suspect Kelley’s motives were revenge against the family he hated. Kelley’s former mother-in-law was out of town and not in attendance at the church on the day of his attack.
So, what we have here is a huge legal, emotional, and spiritual mess. Gun laws were not enforced, allowing Kelley to purchase the guns he used in the attack that he never should have been allowed to purchase. Lingering anger over domestic disputes that was never addressed finally boiled over into rage-filled action. And, the total lack of any spiritual support for a man caught up in who knows what kind of mental and emotional self-afflicted trauma. Devin Kelley was an explosion waiting to go off. There was nothing in place to stop him.
As a nurse, I experience this occasionally. People are especially vulnerable when their children are ill, and they create expectations in their minds about what is to be done for their child. When what they expect will be done is not done because, frankly, the medical team deems it unnecessary or even inappropriate, then parents can become very agitated. Pretty soon, people are yelling about how the doctors and nurses don’t care about their child, or don’t know what they’re doing. Too many people live their lives on a fuse waiting to be lit, and it doesn’t take much to light that fuse.
I’m not sure what could have stopped Devin Kelley from doing what he did. But, I am sure that culture has a lot to do with it. I don’t think he would have gone to this extreme decades ago, when the idea of taking out your frustrations on scores of innocent people simply didn’t enter people’s mind all that often. Now, it seems almost the go-to position for angry people with guns.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.