In the wake of the Texas church shooting, many Americans are once again asking: what could have been done to prevent this mass shooting?
One answer — close a legal loophole that allowed the shooter to purchase a gun even though he was convicted of domestic abuse.
Virginia Congressman Scott Taylor, who isn’t a fan of most gun regulation, is now co-sponsoring a bill to do just that.
One he says a no-brainer.
Hours after Devin Kelley stormed a small Texas church and opened fire — killing 26 people — news broke that he was not supposed to be able to legally purchase a firearm.
That’s because Kelley, who served in the Air Force, was convicted in a military court of domestic abuse.
But the Air Force failed to report his name to a federal background check system that would have prevented him from purchasing a gun.
“It’s important that that reporting take place, Taylor said.
Federal law requires anyone — military or civilian — convicted of domestic violence to be reported to federal background check system, but since the military code of justice doesn’t have a specific domestic abuse provision, the Army and Air Force have both admitted they under-report names to the database.
“It’s a common sense, closing this loophole,” Taylor added. “It’s clearly a loophole, and clearly the military says they’ve failed to report these things and it’s necessary to do so based on scientific evidence.”
Taylor’s bill would add a specific domestic violence provision to military code, and would also require that the military report names to the database within 3 days of conviction.
“This in itself does not prevent all gun violence, but it potentially could prevent some, that’s for sure,” Taylor said.
Taylor is careful to note, though, that he does not support most other proposed gun control measures, like mandatory gun registry, or universal background checks.
“I think this is a common sense, reasonable measure that doesn’t take constitutional rights way from other people,” Taylor added.
Taylor’s bill mirrors one also proposed in the Senate.
He says he anticipates overwhelming support.
The shooting in Texas also prompted others in Congress to take action on gun control.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators announced legislation that would improve background checks for gun sales.
If passed, it would require federal and state agencies to upload critical information to the national instant criminal background check system.
That includes criminal and mental health records.
The plan rewards agencies for complying, and penalizes them when they don’t.