Putnam reacts to criticism over failed gun background checks

Florida didn't conduct gun background checks for an entire year because an official couldn't log in

Florida didn't conduct gun background checks for an entire year because an official couldn't log in

An inspector general's report says the state Division of Licensing failed to consult the National Instant Background Check System between between February 26, 2016, and late March 2017, when an official noticed the agency hadn't heard recently from anyone whose application for a carry permit was denied.

Keller added that the NICS database is used for "non-criminal disqualifying offenses" and during this time, the department conducted criminal background checks using two other databases, the Florida Crime Information Center database and the National Crime Information Center database.

Hours after the Times story published, Putnam's office said upon learning of the lapse in 2017, it "immediately" reviewed 365 applications and revoked 291 concealed weapons permits.

"Shockingly irresponsible - for over a year, #FL failed to run proper background checks for concealed carry permits".

"Career politicians like Mr. Putnam think this is just another bad day at the office - but when you hide a level of negligence that endangers every resident, and every child, in Florida, you forfeit any moral right to lead", said former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, one of the Democratic candidates running for governor.

McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, said the governor's office was never provided a copy of the inspector general's report.

The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a national LGBTQ political organization focused on gun violence, expressed concern that while the background checks weren't made, the state may have issued concealed-weapons licenses "to drug addicts, people with mental illness, and others who should be barred from owning a gun". An investigative report from the Office of Inspector General found that the employee in charge of using the NICS system stopped using it because she couldn't log in, the Times reports. And when the Office of Inspector General provided the results of its investigation to the Department, his office immediately backtracked and reviewed the 365 applications. "As soon as we learned that one employee failed to review applicants' non-criminal disqualifying information, we immediately terminated the employee, thoroughly reviewed every application potentially impacted, and implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again".

"There are now 1.8 million active hide weapon license holders in Florida, No. 1 in the nation, up from 800,000 before I came in (to the Agriculture Department)", he boasted.

Of those, Putnam's office conducted a further review on 365 applicants and then revoked 291 of their concealed carry permits. There are now 1.8 million concealed weapon permit holders in Florida. In all that time, though, tens of thousands of concealed permit applications were being approved.

An inspector general's report sent to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2017 highlighted the problem. Early in Putnam's term, it was discovered that his employees had trouble accessing the database because they were not law enforcement officers.

In her interview with investigators, Wilde acknowledged she "dropped the ball". "I also want to know why, if this report was done a year ago, why are we just now finding out about this?" But in March 2017 an investigation was triggered after a state employee noted that the state was not getting any correspondence from people whose applications had been rejected because of information gleaned from the national database. "I should have been doing it and I didn't".

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