Ryan: Existing gun laws should’ve prevented Texas shooting

Twenty-six crosses stand in a field Monday representing the 26 dead in the church shooting attack in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Photo by Larry W. Smith/EPA-EFE

Nov. 7 (UPI) — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday the suspect in Sunday’s church shooting in Texas, in which 26 people died, should have been stopped by existing laws.

The identified gunman, Devin Kelley, was court martialed in 2012 while in the U.S. Air Force for domestic abuse against his wife and son, and later received a “bad conduct” discharge. Monday, the Air Force said it was investigating why Kelley’s discharge wasn’t properly entered into a database used for background checks on gun purchases.

“How about enforcing the laws we’ve got on the books?” Ryan said Tuesday. “This man should not have gotten a gun. You know why? Because he was a domestic abuser.

“We have laws on the books that says if you are a domestic abuser, you are not supposed to own a gun. How did this slip through the cracks? … Because the laws we have right now on the books say a person like this should not have gotten a gun.”

Authorities said Monday that Kelley was found in his vehicle with three gunshot wounds, one self-inflicted, after the attack on the church.

Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Monday that Kelley was shot twice, in the leg and torso, in a gunfight with local resident Stephen Willeford — and once in the head from his own weapon.

Investigators said they found hundreds of empty shell casings and 15 empty ammunition magazines at the First Baptist Church in the town, near San Antonio, of about 400 residents.

Fourteen of the injured remain hospitalized late Monday, Martin said.

In an interview with KHBS-TV, Willeford said he emerged barefoot and armed from his nearby home when his daughter told him about a black-clad man shooting at the church.

“I kept hearing the shots, one after another, very rapid shots. Just ‘pop pop pop pop’ and I knew every one of those shots represented someone, that it was aimed at someone, that they weren’t just random shots,” Willeford told the Arkansas TV station.

Willeford said he was the first to exchange gunfire with Kelley and chase him, with another man, before police arrived.

Officials said they believe the wounded Kelley shot himself while in his vehicle.

Those who died in the shooting at the church represent about 4 percent of Sutherland Springs’ entire population, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said.

With President Donald Trump in Asia, Vice President Mike Pence said he will visit the small community near San Antonio on Wednesday.

“We are with you, Texas,” Pence tweeted.

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