Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Wednesday that the military branch has implemented new procedures for reporting on criminal cases to the FBI one month after a veteran who shouldn’t have been able to purchase firearms killed 26 people in Texas.
Wilson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that local Air Force branches must notify higher command of criminal cases before they can be concluded. The service also is reviewing previous cases to make sure the FBI was notified if a service member must be prevented from purchasing firearms.
“Since the tragedy, the Air Force has implemented additional measures to ensure current and future offender criminal history data is submitted to federal law enforcement agencies in a timely manner,” she said in prepared testimony.
“We have added steps to our case management process so that there are checks in the system as cases are closed and archived not only at the local office, but at higher levels of command. In addition, case officers not only must submit finger prints, they must check the FBI database to ensure that the records have been received and properly recorded by the FBI.”
Wilson said a printout or a screenshot of the FBI database entry would then be kept in the case file.
Family members of the victims of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooting on Nov. 5 filed a wrongful death claim against the Air Force after it failed to report gunman Devin Kelley’s domestic violence conviction to the FBI. The conviction should have prevented him from purchasing a firearm.
The day after the shooting, the Air Force ordered a full review of its procedures after revealing it failed to enter the conviction into the federal background check database.
“The Air Force is sharing all lessons learned with the other services,” Wilson said Wednesday. “When we have all the facts, we will assess accountability for the breakdowns in this specific case and, more broadly, for any systemic deficiencies.”
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