The military failed to submit fingerprints of convicted service members in hundreds of cases between 2015 and 2016 alone, the Pentagon’s inspector general reported Tuesday, as the military continues to try to find answers in the mass shooting at a Texas church in November that killed 26.
In that shooting, former airman Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was able to buy multiple firearms that he used in the Nov. 5 attack despite being court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s Article 128, which deals with assault.
Kelley received a bad conduct discharge in 2014.
In the weeks since the shooting, the Air Force and all of the services have been directed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to do an extensive review of the way convictions within the military justice system are communicated to federal law enforcement.
On Tuesday, the inspector general found significant holes remain and that in one out of every four cases where fingerprints should have been provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they weren’t.
“The failure to [report the information] with all the required fingerprint records can allow someone to purchase a weapon who should not, hinder criminal investigations, and potentially impact law enforcement and national security interests,” the Department of Defense Inspector General found.
Of the 2,502 criminal convictions of military service members between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2016, that were required by law to be reported to the FBI, the military failed to provide federal law enforcement fingerprints for the individuals in 601 cases.
Separately, the services were also required to submit a final disposition report on those convictions — a summary of the convictions and charges that provide law enforcement necessary background information on an individual. In those same 2,502 cases, the response was even worse; the services failed to provide that information in 780 of the cases.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."