Congressman Leonard Lance

Representing the 7th District of New Jersey

Lance Letter to Sec. Mattis: Is Background Check Info Being Reported?

Nov 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHNGTON, D.C. --- Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis requesting the U.S. Department of Defense commission a comprehensive review of agency compliance with reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  The Lance letter comes as reports suggest the perpetrator in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas was court-martialed by the Air Force for domestic violence.  The Air Force failed to report the domestic violence conviction to the NICS system.  Under federal law, that conviction should have stopped the purchasing of the guns he acquired. 

“I request that you commission a comprehensive review of the entire Department of Defense to ensure any similar actions do not go unreported and that all future instances are properly reported.  We all must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that firearms stay out of the hands of individuals deemed unfit to possess them by federal law,” Lance wrote.

Lance has long supported the NICS system – being one of a minority of Republicans in Congress to vote to increase funding for the system and strengthen the system to ensure states and other entities are complying.  The NICS system successfully completed over 23 million background checks last year.  Had the court-martial conviction been reported by the Air Force, the NICS system may have flagged the potential purchase.  

We all must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that firearms stay out of the hands of individuals deemed unfit to possess them by federal law,” Lance concluded.    

FULL LETTER TEXT:

The Honorable James N. Mattis

U.S. Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301-1000

 

Dear Secretary Mattis:

I, like all Americans, was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas this past Sunday.  I struggle to comprehend such horrific actions.

I was equally disturbed when I learned that this event could have been prevented due to existing federal law.  During my time in Congress, I have been a strong supporter of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), regularly supporting increased funding for the program.  It is my understanding that the Air Force failed to report the shooter’s domestic violence court-martial to the appropriate authorities.  Adequate reporting would have precluded the shooter from legally purchasing a firearm.

If that is the case, I request that you commission a comprehensive review of the entire Department of Defense to ensure any similar actions do not go unreported and that all future instances are properly reported.  We all must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that firearms stay out of the hands of individuals deemed unfit to possess them by federal law. 

I appreciate your time and consideration of my letter.