Dozens of Air Force service members charged with or convicted of serious crimes were never reported to the federal gun background-check database as required, the New York Times reports. The revelation came after the Air Force disclosed that it had failed to report the domestic violence conviction of Devin Kelley, the gunman who opened fire at a church in Texas this month. Under federal law, Kelley’s court-martial conviction for domestic assault should have prevented him from purchasing at a gun store the rifle he used in the attack, as well as other guns he acquired over the past four years. After the Air Force admitted that Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico had failed to report the results of Kelley’s court-martial to the federal background database, it began an investigation into how many other serious incidents had not been reported.
Although officials have only examined a portion of the cases, several dozen have already surfaced that were not reported but should have been. “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. “Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking.” Air Force officials are reviewing the results of the inquiry so far to assess whether to take any punitive action against personnel who failed to report Kelley’s conviction. The Air Force review is only one part of a wide-ranging investigation into the background-check reporting process underway inside the military and the Justice Department in the aftermath of the Nov. 5 church massacre, in which 25 were killed.