Since the Texas church massacre last November, the U.S. Department of Defense has added 4,000 dishonorably discharged former members of the military to the NICS prohibited persons list, according to a CNN report.
The DOD hasn’t admitted that these additions to the gun ban list were driven by the Texas massacre, but it’s no secret that all branches of the military have been scrambling to get through their backlogs of prohibited persons.
“I’m encouraged that they’re trying to hurry up and get through this backlog. But it was a failure of duty and responsibility to not report these people to the federal database. I’m highly disappointed,” said US Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia), a former Navy SEAL now working on the “Fix NICS” bill.
The Texas church massacre was carried out by a former member of the Air Force who had been kicked out of the military for assaulting his wife. Under current federal law, he should have been banned from purchasing a firearm. But because the Air Force had failed to report him to the FBI, he was able to purchase a firearm anyway.
Since the November shooting, the number of individuals prohibited from owning a firearm due to dishonorable discharge has jumped from around 11,000 to 15,597, according to CNN. Prior to November that number had remained around 11,000 since 2016.
The Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps admitted to CNN that they have been combing through their records to ensure they have reported all prohibited individuals.
“We are in the process of conducting a thorough review of past cases to ensure that any prior failures to report are rectified and the appropriate information is provided to the FBI,” said Capt. Christopher R. Harrison, a spokesman for the Marines. He said the Marine Corps was planning changes that would “increase the speed and efficacy of reporting.”
The FBI has not said whether the Texas shooting was responsible for the spike in dishonorable discharge reports.
“The NICS Section does not speculate on changes in statistics,” FBI spokesman Stephen G. Fischer told CNN.
The National Instance Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was mandated by the Brady Law in 1993 and launched by the FBI in 1998. Every time an individual purchases a firearm from a licensed firearm dealer, the FBI cross-references that person’s name with a list of people who have been prohibited from owning a firearm for a variety of reasons, including being dishonorably discharged from the military.
The system relies on federal records as well as voluntarily submitted records from state and local law enforcement agencies and all branches of the military.
The “Fix NICS” bill currently under consideration in the US Congress would, among other things, require federal agencies to verify twice a year that they have submitted the names of all prohibited persons to the FBI.