Three cities, San Francisco, New York City, and Philadelphia, filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Department of Defense, saying its failure to properly report convictions of service personnel has allowed guns to be purchased by individuals in their communities who should not be eligible to legally buy firearms, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The lawsuit, obtained by 1200 WOAI news, cites the November 5th massacre in Sutherland Springs, where a dishonorably discharged Airman was able to legally buy the firearm used to kill 26 people because his domestic violence conviction had not been reported by the Air Force to the FBI to be included in the database licensed gun dealers check to determine eligibility to buy weapons.
"We cannot accept the level of gun violence in our country as ‘just the way it is.’ Twenty-six people being murdered at church can never be normal," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. "Patriotic Americans did not fight and die on foreign battlefields for our freedom just so we could be gunned down in our schools, our theaters and our churches because it’s too easy for people who shouldn’t have guns to get them."
The lawsuit demands that the federal court appoint a monitor from among the judicial system, an "intervention by an independent and apolitical branch of government, fully familiar with monitoring, and maintaining, compliance with the law" to oversee the military's efforts to get back into compliance with federal laws which require background check notification.
The national criminal background check system is the backbone of common-sense gun regulations. The Defense Department’s failure to fulfill its legal duty and accurately report criminal convictions puts innocent Americans at risk. It is past time to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep guns out of the wrong hands," Herrera said.
The lawsuit cites a recent study by the Department of Defense Inspector General which determined that the three branches of the military have 'systematically failed' for twenty years to properly report names of military members who are court martialed for crimes which make them ineligible by law to obtain weapons.
In fact, the I.G.'s office determined that the Air Force actually has a better record than the Army or the Navy in reporting criminal defendants to the National Crime Information Center.
"As Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) recently observed, achieving this life-saving goal is “as simple as just getting [Defendants] to do what they’re already required to do,” and “[t]here simply is no excuse for not enforcing the current law.” the lawsuit states.Herrera said the impact of the military's inability to follow the law is deadly in San Francisco, in New York, in Philadelphia and in Sutherland Springs."
Today, we mourn the loss of twenty-six innocent Americans from Texas that could have been prevented," he said in the lawsuit.
The family of several Sutherland Springs victims has filed a similar complaint against the Air Force.