Cities Sue Pentagon Over NICS Failures

Sutherland Springs was horrific. There’s just no other way to describe an event that murders multiple generations of families and practically decimates a small town. In fact, “horrific” is really too mild a word to ascribe to such an event.


It was made all the worse for many by finding out that the NICS, the very system charged with keeping guns out of the hands of people like this killer, failed to do so. It failed because the Department of Defense had failed to report the killer’s crimes during his Air Force enlistment to the system.

People were upset, to say the least.

Then it was revealed that the killer was far from the only one the DOD failed to report to the NICS.

Now, a handful of cities are filing a lawsuit against the United States Armed Forces for this failure.

The cities of New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco have filed suit against the Pentagon for repeatedly failing to report military convictions to a federal database designed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Virginia on Friday in cooperation with former Arizona Democratic congresswoman and shooting victim Gabby Giffords’ gun control advocacy group.

The cities are seeking a court order to monitor compliance with reporting requirements that the Pentagon in recent weeks has acknowledged it has failed to comply with for years.

Two separate military investigations — one by the Air Force and one by the Department of Defense Inspector General — recently found the failure to share the data is systemic across the military branches, in some cases a full third of the time.

The complaint states that “twenty-six innocent people were murdered and twenty others wounded, in a Texas church in a mass shooting that could, and should, have been prevented. … Had Defendants simply followed the law, that shooter never should have been able to purchase the weapon he used.”

“No new laws are required to achieve that goal,” it adds. “Instead, this Court need only grant Plaintiffs’ request to compel Defendants to diligently implement, and consistently apply, the unambiguous laws that have been on the books for decades.”


The idea that New York and San Francisco would latch onto this is hardly surprising. Philadelphia isn’t all that much of a surprise either, to be fair, but it doesn’t have the serious anti-gun “street cred” of the other two and this is too good an opportunity for them to pass up.

Finding out Giffords is involved as well isn’t all that surprising either. After all, this is a group that has been trying mightily to find itself a big win and is grabbing hold of anything and everything it can to score it. However, I suspect this will fail just like everything else they’ve tried.

For one thing, I’m not sure these cities actually have the standing to sue the federal government. I suppose Sutherland Springs might, but these other communities? Not so much.

But I’m not a lawyer, so I could be wrong on that one.

What I do know is that filing a lawsuit against the federal government is dicey at best. There are plenty of rules in place over what you can sue the government over and, well, Uncle Sam has deeper pockets than NYC, San Fran, and Philly put together. Yes, they’re our pockets, ultimately, but they’re still fairly deep.

I don’t expect this lawsuit to go anywhere, but it’ll let Giffords feel like they’re doing something, so let’s give them a pat on the head like a mentally disabled child and send them on their way.


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