After Texas church shooting, military will count domestic violence as a separate crime for the first time
By LAUREN MCGAUGHY | The Dallas Morning News | Published: August 10, 2018
AUSTIN, Texas (Tribune News Service) — The military will now count domestic violence as a separate crime in the hopes of avoiding another tragedy like the shooting last November in Sutherland Springs, according to Military Times.
Previously, the Uniform Code of Military Justice classified domestic abuse among other crimes like assault. This hurt tracking and reporting of these crimes and meant local law enforcement might not know about a service member or veteran's history of family violence, which in many states precludes residents from buying or possessing firearms.
Under the new annual defense authorization act, which the Times says President Donald Trump is expected to sign Monday, domestic violence will become a separate crime under the Uniform Code for the first time.
The change was spurred by the November shooting, when Air Force veteran Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 parishioners at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs before turning the gun on himself. The Air Force admits it should have reported Kelley, who was convicted of domestic abuse and discharged for bad conduct, to the FBI's background check system.
Instead, his crimes were just one instance of thousands the military failed to report. Kelley was able to purchase firearms from a local sporting goods store, which he then used in the rampage. Multiple Sutherland Springs families are suing the federal government for the massive oversight, and two other families are also suing the sporting goods store.
The defense bill Trump will sign next week will also expand victims counseling services and standardize policies for keeping military spouses and family safe from their accused abusers, the Times reported.
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