By Debbie Gregory.
Three cities have filed suit against the Pentagon for lapses that allowed a mass shooter in Texas to buy a gun, even though he carried a conviction in military court that should have barred his purchase.
Air Force veteran Devin P. Kelley murdered 25 people and an unborn child at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas in November. The former logistics specialist had been court-martialed in 2012 and was convicted of two counts of domestic violence against his wife and their child. Kelley was sentenced to 12 months confinement and received a bad conduct discharge in 2014.
In the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., the three cities – New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia, allege that the defendants, which include the military branches and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have failed to properly submit fingerprint cards, as well as information about the results of a criminal proceeding, to the FBI database if troops are charged with or convicted of certain violent crimes, including domestic violence and child abuse.
According to a report by the Department of Defense Inspector General, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps did not submit fingerprint cards to the FBI for 24% of the 2,502 convictions handed down in courts-martial in 2015 and 2016. The branches also neglected to submit final disposition reports in 31% of the cases.
Had the Air Force reported Kelley’s criminal record to the FBI, he wouldn’t have been able to legally purchase the gun he used to conduct the mass shooting.
According to the complaint, ““No new laws are required to achieve that goal. Instead, this Court need only grant Plaintiffs’ request to compel Defendants to diligently implement, and consistently apply, the unambiguous laws that have been on the books for decades.”