U.S. Court Rejects Suit Over Pentagon Gun Reports

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A federal appeals court rejected an effort by three major U.S. cities to require the Pentagon to be more vigilant about reporting service members who were disqualified from owning weapons to a national background check system, Reuters reports. A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said it lacked jurisdiction to compel the Department of Defense to fix what New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco called a “broken” system, or to supervise improvements to the Pentagon’s “partial and inconsistent reporting.”

The cities sued after former Air Force member Devin Kelley killed 26 people in 2017 at a Sutherland Springs, Tx., church before killing himself. Kelley, 26, was convicted in a 2012 court martial of assaulting his wife and stepson and should not have been allowed to possess weapons. His conviction had not been entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The cities said the Pentagon had failed to report some 15,000 current or former personnel who could not own guns because of court martial convictions or dishonorable discharges, and that this undermined their ability to fight violent crime. Writing for the court, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson praised efforts by cities and towns nationwide to protect the public from violence that is too often committed by people who should not have firearms. He said federal law “does not permit their efforts to include judicial supervision of the myriad programmatic workings of the federal government.”

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