The anti-gun mayors of three liberal American cities have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that alleges the military has been lax in reporting criminal convictions to the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS).
Ironically, the mayors of New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco – all liberal Democrats – have essentially acknowledged by filing the lawsuit that an existing gun law failed and that it would work better if every agency complied. By making an existing gun law work as intended, the argument for more restrictive gun laws might lose momentum, if not relevance.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the autumn attack on a Sutherland Springs, Texas church by a former airman identified as Devin Kelley. He had been convicted of domestic violence by a military court while he was serving in the Air Force, but that conviction was evidently not reported to the NICS system, allowing Kelley to purchase firearms after his discharge.
Twenty-six people died in the November church shooting. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, quoted by published reports, asserted that, “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.”
The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette said the lawsuit alleges that the Air Force “failed to submit records in about 14 percent of cases, the Navy and Marine Corps failed to submit records in 36 percent of cases, and the Army didn’t submit records in about 41 percent of cases.”
Kelley was confronted by an armed private citizen outside the church and there was an exchange of gunfire. When he fled the scene, the armed citizen and another citizen pursued Kelley for several miles until his vehicle veered off the highway. He died at that site.
There were quick demands for more gun control, but two facts emerged in the aftermath that may have blunted that effort.
The armed citizen used a semi-auto rifle to shoot at the killer, and then the problem with the NICS records was revealed.
Gun rights advocates have long demanded that existing gun laws should be properly enforced before anyone considers new and more restrictive legislation. They also noted that Stephen Willeford, the armed citizen who shot at Kelley, was using the very kind of gun that anti-gunners want to ban.
The mayors want federal court monitoring of Pentagon compliance with the NICS reporting requirement. Translation: These mayors are doing what the gun rights community has always advocated. They are asking that existing laws be enforced.