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Putnam Draws Fire After Background Checks Report
10 June 2018, 03:33 | Devin Moran
Florida’s ‘proud NRA sellout’ didn’t do concealed gun background checks for a full year — because he couldn’t log in
On Friday, the Timesreported that the state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications but should have more precisely stated that the background checks were not reviewed, which is an essential part of the approval process.
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.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees the Division of Licensing, said that that NICS was only consulted for "non-criminal disqualifying offenses" and that the department conducted criminal background checks using two other databases maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, however, called the lack of background checks an "example of gross neglect" and cited part of the Times story that said the now-fired employee had been promoted from the mailroom to be in charge of database checks. That would be Republican Adam Putnam, the state's current Agriculture Commissioner who is also now running for governor.
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The Times noted that Commissioner Putnam "has made it a priority to streamline the system for requesting concealed weapons permits since he was elected in 2010". 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.
Added Putnam on Friday: "The former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again".
About 350,000 people applied for a concealed weapon license during the period in question, the department said. His office oversees the concealed weapons licensing program.
The lapse, revealed in an internal report that was not widely known about until Friday, occurred during a time period when there was a significant surge in the number of people seeking permission to legally carry a concealed weapon. And Philip Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, called for an investigation and said Putnam has forfeited "any moral right to lead". He said a total of 365 applications were reviewed after the problem was discovered.
A subordinate, Robin James, who "acted as Wilde's back-up", had similar problems, but Wilde "never asked James to check the NICS after the login issue", the report says Wilde told investigators under oath.
"I know I did that", she said. It wasn't until March of the next year another employee noticed a problem. "I should have been doing it and I didn't".
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - For more than a year, Florida failed to do national background checks on people applying for concealed weapons permits.
The state used the national system to see if there were reasons such as mental illness or drug addictions that should prevent someone from being issued a concealed-weapons permit.
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