Three large US cities filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Department of Defence, arguing that many service members who are disqualified from gun ownership weren't reported to the national background check system.
The DoD repeatedly failed to report certain criminal history and dishonorable discharge data for service members into the FBI's national background check system, attorneys representing Philly, New York City and San Fransisco said in the suit.
The Defence Department's failure to report "significant numbers" of disqualifying records to the FBI's national background check system allowed former U.S. Air Force member Devin P. Kelley to buy a rifle and shoot up a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church on November 5, the lawsuit said. They also want the court to oversee the departments compliance efforts. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence also helped prepare the suit.
"This failure on behalf of the Department of Defense has led to the loss of innocent lives by putting guns in the hands of criminals and those who wish to cause immeasurable harm", said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.
The Department of Defense has already told Congress it is investigating the database issue across services.
"So if the Department of Defense is not reporting military convictions into that database, it's hard for us to trust our permitting process", he said. "The Justice Department is reviewing yesterdays lawsuit and determining next steps".
Three major cities in the United States are suing the Pentagon for failing to maintain a crime history database that prevents convicted criminals from buying weapons - something the authorities are legally required to do but have failed at doing a good job so far.
Military officials have acknowledged past problems with their reporting, and the Pentagon's watchdog agency found a "troubling" number of failures this year by the military to alert the Federal Bureau of Investigation on criminal history matters, the Associated Press noted.
The lawsuit was brought against the Department of Defense, the Army, Navy and Air Force, the secretary of defense, the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and the directors of the Defense Department law enforcement entities charged with submitting these records.
However, a recent review by the Pentagons oversight agency, which examined 2,502 criminal cases between January 2015 and December 2016, found that one in four fingerprint cards were not submitted to the database. Kelley spent a year in jail for crushing his young stepsons skull, assaulting his wife and making other threats.
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Their identities have not been released, although Dalton is related to at least one of the victims, the World Herald reported. The neighbor called 911 and officers were deployed to the scene, but Dalton had already fled by the time authorities arrived.
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