Why the hell wasn’t Devin Kelley, the Texas church shooter, in jail?

On Tuesday, WFAA reported that Kelley escaped from a mental institution in New Mexico in 2012, then threatened his superiors and attempted to smuggle guns onto base. According to their report:

El Paso police arrested Devin Kelley on June 7, 2012, at a Greyhound bus station a stone’s throw from the U.S.-Mexico border after he escaped the Peak Behavioral Health Services facility about 12 miles away in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, according to the police report…. Sunland Park officers told their Texas colleagues that Kelley “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms” onto Holloman Air Force Base and that Kelley “was attempting to carry out death threats that [he] had made on his military chain of command,” the report states.

Yet somehow this piece of human debris — a person who had purposefully cracked the skull of his infant stepson and physically abused his wife, who had tortured a dog, who had solicited a 13-year-old — was walking around free.

How?

He served just 12 months in the brig for this stunt and for his domestic violence conviction. The Air Force didn’t even bother to submit that information to the FBI, which would have prevented him from buying new weapons.

There are surely thousands of men like Kelley walking around free today. In 2010, some 152,850 felons tried to buy guns and were denied. Only a few thousand were prosecuted, and just 44 were prosecuted on a federal level. In California, as of 2015, over 16,000 gun owners registered as mentally ill and felons were known by the state; from 2013 to 2015, the state dealt with just 3,400 people.

The Texas shooting wasn’t a failure of blackletter law. We don’t need more regulations. We need the ones on the books enforced. The Texas shooting was a failure of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. And it demonstrates once again that the greatest problem facing innocent Americans when it comes to brutal and evil men is the government’s utter inability to enforce its own dictates.