Three cities have joined together to file a lawsuit against the Department of Defense for failing to report crime statistics to federal databases that are used to conduct background checks for gun owners.
New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco have filed the lawsuit in Virginia in an attempt to get federal courts to oversee the Pentagon’s process of reporting the statistics on criminal convictions of service members, The New York Times reports.
“This failure on behalf of the Department of Defense has led to the loss of innocent lives by putting guns in the hands of criminals and those who wish to cause immeasurable harm,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The Pentagon has gotten in trouble for failing to report crime statistics to the FBI and the national gun background-check database in the past, and that failure became tragically evident this fall.
The shooter at the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church on Nov. 5 was former Air Force enlistee Devin Kelley, who was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2012 and therefore ineligible for purchasing a firearm. A Daily Caller News Foundation review of FBI records suggests that there is only one active record of misdemeanor domestic violence reported by the Pentagon.
The three cities said they are suing because police use the federal databases to check gun ownership eligibility, and the Pentagon’s failure to report statistics weaken their ability to run veritable searches.
The lawsuit names several defendants, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Departments and leaders of the Air Force, Army and Navy, and the heads of military criminal investigation organizations.
“I believe the active involvement of the court system will produce the desired results,” Ken Taber, lead lawyer on the lawsuit, told The Times. “This will impose an outside monitor to make sure that what should have been done for two decades is finally done.”
Taber gained notoriety in 2006 for leading New York City’s litigation against 15 “rogue” gun stores after investigators found 500 gun-related crimes between 1994 and 2001 could be connected to the stores.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in November to “work with the Department of Defense to identify and resolve any issues with the military’s reporting of convictions and other information relevant to determining prohibited person status.”
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect San Francisco is one of the three cities filing suit.
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