After the unfathomable tragedy in Sutherland Springs, where a 26-year-old gunman went on a savage killing spree during a church service at the First Baptist Church, our President stated, “I think that mental health is your problem here.” If our President really feels this way, that mental health plays a big part in this kind of tragedy, then why, in February of 2017, did he sign a bill that undid a regulation from the Obama administration that made it harder for people with a history of mental issue to purchase a gun?
Other people think that Devin Patrick Kelley, because of his past criminal record, shouldn’t have been able to legally buy a gun. For sure, the Air Force will have to answer as to why they didn’t tell federal authorities about his domestic violence conviction, which would have stopped him from being able to legally buy guns. Of course, he could have easily bought a gun illegally on the black market, where they are readily available. So, what are we going to do about the massive amounts of guns, ammo, and explosives that can easily be obtained illegally in this country? What are we going to do to ensure that the national database is up to date, so that when gun stores run a background check on a person, it’s accurate?
I think we need to ask an even a bigger question. The obvious one, staring us right in the face, and making us sick in the pit of our stomachs: Devin Patrick Kelley had a violent criminal history and yet, he seemed to have evaded long-term imprisonment or long-term confinement in a mental institution -- why is that???
Let me list the crimes that he committed that I am aware of at this date:
1) In 2012, while still in the Air Force, he was court-martialed on charges that he assaulted his wife and hit his stepson so hard that he fractured the boy’s skull. Kelley pleaded guilty to “diverse occasions,” and as a result received a “bad” conduct discharge, reduction in rank, and 12 months confinement. Really???? For fracturing a child’s skull and assaulting his wife, he got a year sentence. That’s it?? If they had given him proper punishment that fit the crime, say 5-10 years behind bars, along with several years of probation, he might still have been imprisoned, and he wouldn’t have been able to killed 26 people and injured 20 others.
2) In 2012, while still in the Air Force, he made death threats against superior officers. Isn’t that a crime worthy of a couple of years in prison???? Whenever I read news reports about his criminal activities, including the one listed above this charge, and the one listed below this charge, it seems they just lumped the assaults, death threats, and gun smuggling all together, and gave him one punishment: the bad conduct discharge, reduction in rank, and 12 months confinement.
3) He was caught smuggling guns into Holloman Air Force base in Mexico, while stationed there. What, no, separate jail time for that????
4) In 2012, he escaped from a mental health facility in Santa Teresa, in New Mexico that he was confined to. What punishment did he receive for running away from there?
5) In 2013, he was named as a suspect in a sexual assault case in his hometown of New Braunfels, Texas, but that case was dropped midstream when Kelley moved from Texas to Colorado.
6 ) In 2014, deputies were sent to investigate a domestic violence report against his girlfriend, Danielle Shields. Another domestic violence incidence that appeared to be covered up by all parties involved.
7) In 2014, El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies cited Kelley for misdemeanor cruelty to animals. For this he was given a deferred probationary sentence and ordered to pay $386 in restitution.
Isn’t it the responsibility of our correctional system to recognize when an individual’s criminal history reveals a very dangerous pattern of violent behavior and to seek appropriate long-term confinement in either jail or a mental hospital for this person?
I am going to pose the million dollar question: Why the hell was he still out on the streets? Why the hell wasn’t he in a lock up situation? If he had been in jail, then he wouldn’t have been able to purchase a stockade of guns and slaughter a churchful of innocent victims. Perhaps, if he was in a mental institution, he might have gotten the help he so desperately needed, and once again this tragedy could have been averted.
I believe our country is playing the game of Drop the Ball on a grand scale. Our military failed to discipline him properly, and it appears that they just wanted him the hell out of their way. Comal County dropped the ball about a sexual assault case because they believed he left Texas and moved to Colorado. WTF??? The rationale that it's OK to just pass the problem onto the next person, state, or institution is frighteningly insane.
Please, let the punishment fit the crime. That would honor the law of karma: action…reaction. Take what you want, but pay for it. You rape, threaten, and assault men, women, children, and/or animals, then you need to pay for those crimes with – a loss of your freedom – either through imprisonment or being institutionalized.
Why, I ask, is no one asking: Why the hell was Devin Patrick Kelley never truly held accountable for his actions?
One last question: Is this another example of white privilege in action?
The blood of the victims of this heinous crime committed in one of our nation's houses of worship is on the hands of every person, law enforcement official, caseworker, judge, and/or military personnel that allowed this psychopathic man to slip through the cracks of our criminal justice system.
May God forgive us all.
Cindi Sansone-Braff, The Romance Whisperer, talks to the dead to show you how to live well and love better. She is an award-winning playwright and has a BFA in theatre from the University of Connecticut. She is the author of Grant Me a Higher Love and Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships. Check out her website at: www.grantmeahigherlove.com.