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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

DUFAULT: Texas tragedy result of loose laws, lack of action


Another month, another tragedy. A gunman in Texas shot and killed 26 churchgoers, Nov. 7. The gunman, Devin Kelley, went on to shoot and kill himself.

Kelley was not rational, to say the least. He escaped from a mental institution in 2012, brutally assaulted his ex-wife and stepson and was sentenced to serve 12 months in confinement. Kelley was a former member of the United States Air Force and was dishonorably discharged after he was convicted of these charges.

So the real question is, how did this clearly delusional man obtain automatic weapons? The U.S. Air Force failed to report Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the FBI, which is something that is required by federal law, according to a report by the Telegraph. The report would have prevented the shooter from purchasing weapons.

This is an absolutely shameful display by the United States Air Force. The lives of 26 individuals could have been saved if someone at the Air Force decided to follow their own law. An investigation is needed to uncover who was involved in this failure of communication.

However, it would be foolish to just put all of the blame on the Air Force. This instance also proves how ineffective mental health screenings and background checks are in preventing the purchasing of weapons. Apparently, the shooter was able to acquire weapons at a San Antonio sporting goods store prior to the shooting.

How he was able to pass the background check is unknown. It is likely that whoever was selling the guns simply slacked off with the background check. No one in their right mind would sell weapons to a person with Kelley’s record. An internal investigation of the store that sold the weapons is completely necessary.

There are other factors that need to be considered in this case as well, such as the state of Texas’ notoriously loose gun laws. Even if Kelley failed his background check at the store, he still would have technically been able to obtain weapons under state law. Texas does not require background checks for private sales of weapons, meaning Kelley could have obtained weapons from a source that was not a retail store.

This law is absolutely one that needs to be addressed. Background checks should be required for every single gun transaction, private or not. Texas, along with the 31 other states that have this same law, need to consider an adjustment to this extremely loose sanction.

This country should impose much tighter sanctions on gun sales. After 9/11, airport security made massive adjustments in an attempt to prevent a tragedy such as that from occurring again. From the perspective of U.S. law, plane security sanctions are about as tight as laws can possibly get. This country needs to be implementing these same kinds of tight sanctions for weapons.

With the influx of tragedies in these past few years, it’s hard to believe that the country hasn’t implemented more laws that have the ability to prevent travesties such as this. My hope is that after these events, state legislatures will heavily consider adjusting loose gun sale laws.

Additionally, as with any other mass shooting, there comes the ultimate issue of gun control sanctions. There are people and politicians that argue that automatic weapons should be illegal in the United States, as people have no need to own them. Others say that it is a second amendment right to own firearms such as assault rifles.

On one hand, I believe that the second amendment is quite convoluted. Like many amendments created by the founding fathers, it’s hard to discern what they actually meant by it. On the other, I would disagree with the notion that the American people have absolutely no use for automatic weapons when there are plenty of citizens who use weapons simply for recreational use.

Regardless of a person’s opinion of the second amendment, I don’t think anyone can deny that our mental health and background check laws need significant improvement.

There are a lot of questions that need answering in the Kelley case, and more investigation is needed into both the U.S. Air Force and the store that sold the guns. How this, as well as the Las Vegas tragedy, will impact U.S. gun laws is left to be seen. These events are horrific, but they bring increased urgency and awareness to the necessity of  tightening gun laws to prevent future tragedies from occurring.

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