Chairman Mike Turner (OH-10) of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces and co-chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus released the following statement regarding the Air Force’s failure to report the assault committed by the eventual shooter in the Texas church massacre:

“The failure of the Air Force to properly report the military criminal record of the Texas church massacre shooter had fatal consequences,” said Chairman Turner. “I fear this incident represents a larger issue within the Department of Defense to report criminal incidents. Sexual assault in the military, like domestic violence, is a serious issue that traumatizes and endangers our service members.

“The Department of Defense must be certain that all crimes, including sexual assault, are properly reported across its service branches to protect our service members, their families, and all Americans. I plan to hold a meeting of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus with my fellow Co-Chair Niki Tsongas on this issue to inquire about the ability of military service members who have sexually assaulted others to obtain guns.”

“As we have worked to address the issue of sexual assault in the military, we have seen too many systemic failures lead to fatal and criminal consequences,” said Congresswoman Tsongas (MA-03). “The Air Force’s failure to properly report the criminal record of one of its former airmen echoes this unacceptable pattern with tragic and fatal consequences. Chairman Turner and I will be working with the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus to examine whether this deadly oversight represents a larger issue. Crimes, including sexual assault, committed by service members must be properly reported to all appropriate Federal agencies to protect our service members, their families, and all Americans.”

Chairman Turner introduced the BE HEARD Act in May with Congresswoman Tsongas to combat sexual assault in the military. That bill text has been included in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act.