In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, new details emerged that revealed the shooter was able to purchase the gun he used during his rampage because the Air Force failed to report his criminal records to the FBI — a problem that the Pentagon has known about for at least 20 years.
The Pentagon has known about the military’s failure to turn over criminal records to the FBI for at least two decades — records that would have prevented the Texas church shooter from legally purchasing his firearms, The Denver Post reported.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Tuesday that he has ordered the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate the Texas church shooter case to "define what the problem is."
The shooter was institutionalized in a civilian psychiatric facility by the Air Force in 2012 where he later escaped. Several months later, a military court convicted him of assaulting his wife and intentionally breaking his young child’s skull. Both incidents made it illegal for him to purchase firearms, but the military failed to report his records to the FBI.
“I don’t believe the Air Force should be left to self-police after such tragic consequences,” Texas Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), said.
According to The Denver Post, some of the failures in reporting crimes to the FBI include:
- An FBI database known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which contains information for use in background checks on prospective gun buyers, had only one Pentagon entry for domestic violence convictions as of Dec. 31, 2016. Most federal agencies had zero entries in that category.
- As recently as February 2015, the Pentagon inspector general reported that hundreds of convicted offenders’ fingerprints were not submitted to the FBI’s criminal history database. The report found about a 30 percent failure rate for submitting fingerprints and criminal case outcomes. It did not determine the reasons for the lapses.