The lawsuit by New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco calls on the Department of Defense to address a “clearly broken system” that allowed a former serviceman to buy a gun and kill 26 people in a Texas church in November. The gunman should have been disqualified from purchasing firearms, but the Air Force failed to report his domestic violence conviction to the FBI.
Three major U.S. cities filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Pentagon to address a “clearly broken system” that they contend allowed a former Air Force serviceman to buy a gun and kill 26 people in a Texas church in November, reports The Hill. New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco seek to have the Defense Department “fulfill their long-standing legal obligation to report all service members disqualified from purchasing and possessing firearms to the FBI’s national background check system,” according to a statement from the law firm filing the case. Law enforcement officials in all three cities “regularly rely upon the integrity of the FBI’s background check system,” the attorneys write.
The case was brought after Devin Kelley opened fire Nov. 5 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people. It was later discovered that the Air Force had failed to report Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the FBI. He had been court-martialed and sentenced to a year in prison in 2014 after beating his wife and cracking his stepson’s skull. But the service didn’t send the conviction to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services, which would then upload such information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, barring Kelley from buying a gun. Filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., the lawsuit asks for an injunction and judicial oversight to ensure the Pentagon complies with its legal duty to submit records. Earlier this month, a government report said the Air Force failed to submit records in 14 percent of its cases, the Navy and Marine Corps in 36 percent, and the Army in 41 percent.