The Texas church shooter should not have been legally able to buy a gun

 

  • Devin Patrick Kelley, identified as the gunman behind the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, had previously committed crimes that should have kept him from legally buying a gun.
  • Kelley was discharged from the military after being court-martialed after a count of assault on his spouse and on his child.
  • Both felony charges and domestic-violence charges should legally prohibit someone from buying a gun.

Devin Patrick Kelley, the man authorities say killed 26 and injured 20 in the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, should have been prohibited from buying a gun under US law, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Kelley had been denied a license to carry a gun in Texas, Abbott told CNN.

"So how was it that he was able to get a gun? By all the facts that we seem to know, he was not supposed to have access to a gun," said Abbott. "So how did this happen?"

RELATED: See photos from the scene of the attack: 

22 PHOTOS
Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
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Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church. A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church (rear). A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 6: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement and forensic officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: A forensics official passes by the entrance to the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police are at the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police have closed off the roads near the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the shooting scene at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: People gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
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A former airman with the US Air Force, Kelley, received a "bad conduct" discharge from the military after charges of assault against his spouse and child led him to be court-martialed.

Military members dishonorably discharged cannot legally purchase a gun, but Kelley's bad-conduct discharge falls just short of that mark.

It's unclear if Kelley's assault charges constituted domestic violence, but such a conviction could have also legally disqualified him from gun ownership.

But even if the assault charges didn't technically go down as domestic violence, assault alone can be treated as a felony, which should preclude gun ownership. And even if the charges didn't go down as felonies, the twin charges carried a maximum sentence of over a year in prison, and therefore should preclude gun ownership.

The federal government's firearm transaction record, which buyers must legally fill out, asks about felony convictions. Kelley bought a Ruger AR-556 rifle, used in the attack on the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in April of last year from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio, a law-enforcement official told CNN.

The purchase of the gun took place two years after Kelley had been court-martialed, imprisoned, and discharged from the military.

Wearing black tactical-style gear and carrying that rifle, Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and opened fire on the churchgoers.

"You've got your pews on either side. He just walked down the center aisle, turned around and my understanding was shooting on his way back out," said Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr., whose territory includes Sutherland Springs. Tackitt added that there was likely "no way" for churchgoers to escape after the shooting started.

The victims of the shooting range from 5 to 72 years of age. Kelley fled the scene when confronted by armed citizens, whom he then led on a high-speed chase. Authorities found Kelley dead in his car several miles from the scene.

RELATED: See tributes to the victims of the attack: 

12 PHOTOS
Tributes to the victims of the Texas church shooting
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Tributes to the victims of the Texas church shooting
Mourners attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Texas Governor Greg Abbott attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Brayleigh and her brother Branson attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Community leader Mike Gonzales attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Ramiro and Sofia Martinez attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Sofia Martinez, 9, attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
A woman attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Local residents take part in a candle light vigil for victims of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, US., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed
A woman and her children take part in a vigil for victims of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, US., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Michaun Johnson attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Jordan Moy holds his 5 year old daughter Bryleigh Moy as he is interviewed across the street from a mass shooting site of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
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SEE ALSO: What we know about Devin Kelley, the suspect in the Sutherland Springs church shooting

NOW WATCH: Trump says the Texas church shooting 'isn't a guns situation' — watch his full statement on the attack that killed 26 people

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