Three major cities are taking a stand against the Department of Defense, and suing them on some pretty hefty allegations. They are suing on the grounds that the Department of Defense did not report service members who disqualify from owning firearms to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
This is a big deal, since the NICS screens people before allowing them to carry a firearm. Therefore, since the Department of Defense did not report these people, the system shows they can still purchase firearms. Even when they don’t qualify to do so. It is a requirement that every federal and military agency consistently submit compliance reports to the NICS.
Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New York City are the three cities suing the Department of Defense. They are requesting a court order, which will force the Department of Defense to begin requiring federal monitoring for its reporting. The Department of Defense admits it did not abide by reporting requirements.
The instillment of these requirements came back in the 1990s. Then, after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, these requirements were strengthened even more.
Unfortunately, the Department of Justice has a record of not always adequately addressing compliance issues, and has been doing so as far back as 1997.
Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York City assert that tragedies such as the mass church shooting in Texas and the Las Vegas concert shooting could have been prevented if compliance in reporting requirements wasn’t an issue.
The person responsible for the Texas church mass shooting was court martialed in 2012 for domestic assault against his wife and children. He was was also given a sentence of spending a year in military prison. He was then dishonorably discharged in 2014.
This man’s background should have prevented him from passing the background check to obtain a firearm. However, since the Air Force did not report the man’s criminal history, the shooter was able to purchase a rifle and use it in the mass shooting.
It is important to remember, though, that even if the shooter was unable to pass a background check, he still had the ability to buy a firearm through a private sale.
According to a military investigation, just under one-third of court martialed convictions, which should have put a stop to an offender from buying a firearm, have gone unreported.
The lawsuit claims that the Navy and Marine Corps have not submitted records in 36% of cases. They also allege that the Army has not submitted records in 41% of cases, and the Air Force has not in about 14% of cases.
Air Force officials confirm their failure in reporting the criminal history of the Texas mass shooter. They cite a lack of training and compliance measures as the cause of this failure of reporting.
According to the Pentagon’s watchdog agency, there have been a number of reporting failures all across the U.S. military. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has since ordered a review of the FBI database.