Since an American airman shot and killed more than 24 people in a Texas church in November, more than 4,000 names have been added by the US military to the national list of military personnel dismissed dishonorably and devoid of possessing firearms, a sign of what has been a massive hole in the nation’s weapons procurement background check system.
The gunman in the Sutherland Springs massacre had been expelled from the Army for assaulting his wife. According to federal law, that should have prevented the shooter from buying his semiautomatic rifle, but the US Air Force later admitted that he had not submitted his records to the FBI’s background check system.
In the months since then, the US Department of Defense it has endeavored to ensure that all its subsidiaries have been properly updated system FBI to track down expelled from the Armed Forces personnel who are prohibited from possessing firearms.
That initiative, as found by a CNN review, has uncovered such an important delay that the FBI’s count of previously discharged service members has shot up to 4,284 names in just three months, a jump of 38%.
The FBI figures track the reasons why civilians and ex-military cannot possess weapons. The agency separately quantifies the dishonorable dismissals, which include personnel convicted by a general war council. Other types of military layoffs that can legally prevent someone from owning a firearm are not separated from the civilian population in FBI data.
Since 2015, the number of people who are prohibited from possessing firearms because they were dismissed dishonorably remained at around 11,000, according to FBI statistics published online. That number jumped suddenly to 14,825 last November, then to 15,583 in December. Now it is at 15,597.
The Department of Defense has not yet publicly acknowledged that the military increased the reports since the shooting. Late reports mean that, during an unknown period, more than 4,000 people had the opportunity to buy guns from dealers while they should have been prohibited from doing so.
“I am encouraged that they are trying to rush and overcome this backwardness, but it was a failure of duty and responsibility not to report these people to the federal database, I am very disappointed,” said US Rep. Scott. Taylor (Republican of Virginia), a former member of the Navy SEALs, who is now working on a bill to improve the background check system.
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