Putnam: Criminal Background Checks Conducted on Every Concealed Weapon Application

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

The report, published by the Tampa Bay Times, details an Office of Inspector General investigation into the Department of Agriculture that found the Department did not use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, for a period lasting February 2016 through March 2017. Concealed carry licenses "may have been issued to potentially ineligible individuals" during the 13 months the problem went undetected, and the report noted the information "could cause an embarrassment to the agency" if it were ever revealed.

When determining eligibility for purchasing a firearm, applicants must undergo a background check known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The background-check bungle coincided with the Pulse nightclub shooting, which took 50 lives, and a historic uptick in Florida concealed-weapons applications.

While there are no statistics as to exactly how many applications went unchecked during that time, it may be well over 260,000, as within the fiscal year from July 2016 to June 2017, a total of 268,000 applications were approved, while 6,470 were denied.

Since 2003, Florida has housed concealed weapons permitting under the Department of Agriculture.

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Florida's Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz today told the Tampa Bay Times, "I was discouraged that Adam Putnam chose to throw his employees under the bus rather than taking some ownership over the fact that there wasn't adequate oversight and adequate redundancy over something that is so important to public safety", he said. Putnam has raised the ire of gun control advocates for his proclamation a year ago that he was a "proud NRA sellout" who supports the National Rifle Association. The former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again.

An inspector general's report sent to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2017 highlighted the problem.

When the department completed the full background checks with information from the NICS system on the 365 applications she failed to review, 291 licenses were ultimately revoked.

In a Friday interview with the Times, Wilde said the licensing department was overwhelmed with the number of applications and she was under pressure from supervisors to quickly approve applications.

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The report, which was forwarded to Putnam, recommends that the department "identify any NICS ineligible applicants that may have been erroneously issued". These revocations could be due to mitigating factors such as drug usage, mental illness, and more non-criminal disqualifications for a concealed carry. He believes if you carried a gun in Iraq, you should be able to own one at home.

Putnam's office told the Times that the employee was "immediately terminated" after another employee discovered the situation and that every application potentially impacted was "thoroughly reviewed". In 2012, he said his office had "closed the gap".

The report from 2017 quotes the employee saying, "I 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?" "I should have been doing it and I didn't".

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