CNN described a new bill authored by Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Martin Heinrich as closing a gun “loophole” — but this loophole doesn’t exist.
Republican Sen. Flake wrote on Twitter that his bill would “prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence – be it in criminal or military court – from buying a gun” and referenced a “domestic violence loophole.”
CNN reported on Wednesday that it was a “loophole” that allowed the Texas church shooter to purchase a gun despite pleading guilty to a domestic assault, and described Flake’s bill as closing that “loophole.” The chyron for the story read, “Senators aim to close gun law loophole after shooting.”
This alleged “loophole” that CNN and Flake are referencing is that the U.S. Air Force did not enter the shooter’s assault conviction into National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
That’s not a “loophole”–it was an error made by the USAF. Federal law already specifies that criminal and military courts have to report convictions to the criminal background check system. Federal law also says that people with domestic violence convictions cannot purchase firearms.
Flake and Heinrich’s bill would make “domestic violence” a separate offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), as domestic abuse is currently lumped in with standard assaults. However, the distinction in naming conventions wouldn’t allow the military to withhold reporting on those convictions under current law.