The Justice Department is trying to make it easier for Native American tribes to gain access to national crime databases, NPR reports. Federal authorities say the program could prevent criminals from buying guns and help keep battered women and foster children safe. Last year, a boy, 15, killed four classmates and himself at a Washington state high school. A court connected to the Tulalip Tribes had issued a domestic violence restraining order against the boy’s father. That information never showed up in the federal criminal database, leaving the man free to purchase a gun, which the boy used in the killings.
“We live in an information age right now,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, “but unfortunately some of our communities don’t have access to the information that they really need to keep their communities safe.” Under the Justice Department pilot program, 10 tribal communities will get their own hardware and training, so they don’t need to rely on local authorities. John Dossett, general counsel of the National Congress of American Indians, said that matters. Some states “don’t work with tribes,” he said.