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Air Force didn't report dozens of convictions to background check database

Air Force didn't report dozens of convictions to background check database
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The Air Force did not report the convictions of dozens of service members to a national background check database used for gun sales, The New York Times reported Tuesday, highlighting a gap that’s come to light in the wake of this month’s deadly Texas church shooting.

Officials identified the cases while conducting a review of reports to the system, after authorities found that the Air Force had failed to report the domestic violence conviction of Devin Kelley, the gunman behind the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

Kelley, who was sentenced to a year in prison and received a bad conduct discharge after a 2014 court martial conviction on two counts of domestic abuse against his wife and stepson, should not have been able to purchase firearms.

“The error in the Kelley case was not an isolated incident and similar reporting lapses occurred at other locations,” the Air Force said in a statement, provided first to the Times.

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“Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking.”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein earlier this month directed the Office of Special Investigations and Security Forces to review the 60,000 incidents since 2002 that should have been entered into the database, according to the statement.

Two 30-member task forces from each organization are working on the review, the statement adds, but it did not say how far along they were in the process.

“Air Force officials are correcting all identified deficiencies as they are discovered and reporting them to civilian law enforcement.”

The full review will be completed over the next several months, but the service “will continue to take steps to identify and remedy shortfalls” as it continues, officials said. 

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations has already implemented several measures “to ensure compliance with reporting requirements to civilian law enforcement.”

Air Force Security Forces, meanwhile, have put in place new procedures including a leadership requirement at the field, regional and headquarters levels to verify that information from applicable cases is registered with the FBI's National Crime Information Center's Interstate Identification Index.

“Additionally, supporting software, checklist and training changes were made to support the new procedures,” the statement adds.