Dems furious over Air Force failure to report Texas shooter's conviction

Dems furious over Air Force failure to report Texas shooter's conviction
© Greg Nash

Angry Democrats are calling for the Trump administration to investigate after the Air Force announced Monday it failed to enter into a federal database a domestic violence conviction against the Texas church shooter.

If the Air Force had properly reported the court martial, the gunman, Devin Kelley, likely would have been blocked from buying the rifle he used in Sunday’s shooting, killing 26 people.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDem senators slam GOP for announcing Kavanaugh vote ahead of Ford testimony Kamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal This week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos MORE (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump takes tough line on Iran at UN | Boasts about record spark laughter | Pentagon in 5G race with China | GOP chair urges Trump to keep Mattis Armed Services chairman to Trump: Keep Mattis 'as long as you possibly can' Admiral defends record after coming under investigation in 'Fat Leonard' scandal MORE calling on him to start an audit of each military criminal case over the past decade that required the military to notify the FBI of the outcome, and to see that each notification was made and was accurate.

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“Hearing that the shooter was a former service member with military convictions for domestic violence was even more troubling. However, learning that this senseless act of violence might have been prevented if only the proper form was filled out by military investigators was absolutely devastating,” wrote Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“If this can happen in one case, it could happen in others. ... I request that you immediately initiate an audit of all military criminal investigative organizations,” she said.

Other Democrats issued similar calls.

Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroCook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ Julián and Joaquin Castro to campaign with O'Rourke in Texas Castro says Dems will restart Russia probe if they win back the House MORE (D-Texas) said on CNN Monday that the Air Force not reporting the conviction was “a deadly failure.”

“A deadly failure, a colossal failure, they need to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

“There’s going to be a lot of remediating that has to go on to track down anybody else who might have fell through the cracks, whose records they might not have forwarded,” Castro added.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) demanded the Department of Defense give answers on “how this process failed.”

“Air Force failure to report gunman's domestic violence convictions seems to violate statutory duty. How many others unreported?” he tweeted.

Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedAdmiral defends record after coming under investigation in 'Fat Leonard' scandal New York Times: Trump mulling whether to replace Mattis after midterms Overnight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war MORE (D-R.I.), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said each branch of the military must "investigate to determine if there are systemic issues that result in failure to report information on violent crimes” to the FBI and the National Criminal Information Center database.

“The Texas church shooter should not have been able to legally purchase and own a gun. Clearly there was a breakdown in the system that needs to be addressed immediately,” Reed said in a statement. 

“All necessary steps should be taken, administratively and legislatively, to ensure that such a failure does not happen again,” he said.