SUTHERLAND SPRINGS – Senator John Cornyn said a bill that could improve the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System may be unveiled as early as Monday.
"The statement I hear most often is 'We need to do something,'" Cornyn said following a church service at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. "But here that 'something' is pretty clear. We need to fix that broken background check system. I'll be introducing bi-partisan legislation, perhaps as early as tomorrow."
The want for change comes after the U.S. Air Force admitted it did not submit Devin Patrick Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the NIC. The conviction would have shown up on a background check when Kelley purchased the gun used in the Sutherland Springs church shooting that claimed the lives of 26 people.
"One thing we know for sure is that this individual should not have been able to legally purchase a firearm," Cornyn said. "We have a background check system which is designed to weed out people with mental illness, people who are convicted felons, people who are child or spouse abusers and this individual was all of those things."
Cornyn said he hopes the bill would be expedited for consideration to "make sure this sort of thing never happens again." The senate majority whip said the bill will require the federal government to upload conviction information like Kelley's and will clarify any discrepancies between what the charge is called in civilian court and in military court.
Cornyn said repercussions for not uploading conviction information have not yet been determined, but that there needs to be greater accountability.
Senator John Cornyn speaker after the servicePosted by Max Massey TV on Sunday, November 12, 2017
"This is not just another thing we want them to do if they can get around to it," Cornyn said. "What this demonstrates is what happens when people don't do the little things -- perhaps they have big consequences."
When asked whether military-grade weapons "have a place in civil society" Cornyn mentioned the acts of Stephen Willeford. Willeford used his AR-15 to return fire on the Sutherland Springs gunman and chased the gunman down.
"The answer, to me, is that we need law abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves or their communities," Cornyn said. "But clearly we need to keep weapons out of the hands of people who are mentally ill, convicted felons, people convicted of domestic abuse."