Jeff Flake Pledges To Close A Loophole That Doesn’t Exist

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Font Size:

Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake pledged on Tuesday to close a loophole that doesn’t exist.

Flake and Democratic New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich rolled out legislation on Tuesday to close what the Republican called the “domestic violence loophole” — which doesn’t exist.

Flake advertised the bill as a way to “prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence – be it in criminal or military court – from buying a gun.” Federal law already bans anyone convicted of domestic violence from buying a gun, and requires all convictions — whether in criminal or military court — to be reported to a federal background check system.

The new bill comes after the U.S. Air Force acknowledged that it had failed to report Texas church shooter Devin Kelley to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), allowing him to buy the weapons he used to slaughter innocent churchgoers on Sunday.

While in the Air Force, Kelley received a Bad Conduct Discharge after serving 12 months in confinement for viciously assaulting his wife and child. Federal law already requires all convictions for domestic violence to be reported to the nation’s background check systems, but Air Force bureaucrats failed to do so. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Tuesday that the Air Force has “taken responsibility” for the failure.

Although not closing a loophole, Flake and Heinrich’s legislation does still do something.

The bill will make “domestic violence” a separate offense under Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) — there is currently no specific domestic violence provision under military law and acts of domestic violence are frequently prosecuted as garden-variety assaults — potentially simplifying matters for the government bureaucrats who failed to report Kelley’s domestic violence conviction.