Putnam's office failed to run background checks on Florida concealed weapons permits for over a year


  • Adam Putnam | image via Fresh From Florida
For 13 months, the office of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam failed to run national background checks on people applying for concealed weapons permits in Florida because an employee couldn't log into the system.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that since February 2016, the Florida Department of Agriculture stopped using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This FBI crime database lists people who may be disqualified from receiving firearms in other states. People prohibited from receiving a gun include convicts, drug users, people adjudicated "mental defective" or involuntarily committed, and domestic abusers.

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.  The problem wasn't fixed until March 2017. In all that time, though, tens of thousands of concealed permit applications were being approved. According to the Times
"During that time, which coincided with the June 12, 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 50 dead, the state saw an historic spike in applications for concealed weapons permits. There were 134,000 requests for permits in the fiscal year ending in June 2015.

The next 12 months broke a record, 245,000 applications, which was topped again in 2017 when the department received 275,000 applications. …  Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has made it a priority to streamline the system for requesting concealed weapons permits since he was elected in 2010.

In 2012, he held a news conference to tout the state's one millionth concealed weapons permit, noting the time it took to process an application fell from 12 weeks to 35 days on his watch. There are now 1.8 million concealed weapon permit holders in Florida. "

Putnam, who has called himself a "proud NRA sellout" in the past, has listed his expansion of concealed carry permits in Florida as an accomplishment during his run for governor.

Florida Democrats say the "damning and disturbing" report from the Times should disqualify the Republican from being governor.

"Putnam’s gross mismanagement of the concealed carry system likely put guns into the hands of the wrong people and put the lives of thousands of Floridians at risk," said FDP chair Terrie Rizzo in a statement. "There likely were many people whose lives were affected by this negligence. Putnam’s failure to fulfill the basic duties of his office raise serious questions about his ability to lead Florida."

Make some time and read the full Tampa Bay Times report here

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