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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 GillibrandOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Social media responds to Harris making history: 'I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing' MORE (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Biden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties 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 CastroOvernight Defense: Mike Rogers slated to be top House Armed Services Republican | Defense bill hits another snag | Pentagon dinged for 0M loan to trucking company using COVID funds DeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire 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 ReedJack ReedTop Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' Overnight Defense: Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper | Worries grow about rudderless post-election Pentagon | Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up | Pelosi says Esper firing shows Trump intent on sowing 'chaos' Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up 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.