Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Florida commissioner: No mores lapse in background checks

Florida didn't conduct gun background checks for an entire year because an official couldn't log in Florida’s ‘proud NRA sellout’ didn’t do concealed gun background checks for a full year — because he couldn’t log in
Patty Aguilar | 10 June, 2018, 15:31

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam promises his office will never again fail to do follow-up on certain national background checks that could disqualify people from gaining permits to carry concealed weapons.

A previously unreported Office of Inspector General investigation found that in February 2016 the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using a FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that ensures applicants who want to carry a gun do not have a disqualifying history in other states.

The Times reports that the problem was traced back to a single employee who was tasked with logging in to the NICS background check system.

"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.

Meanwhile, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, another Democrat in the governor's race, labeled the report a sign of "dangerous incompetence" by Putnam.

Adam Putnam, Florida's Agriculture commissioner who headed the department, has bragged about the increased number of concealed carry permits, reports the Times. The state saw 134,000 requests in the fiscal year ending in June 2015, followed by an unprecedented 245,000 applications in 2016 and 275,000 in 2017. The Times reports that Wilde could not log in to the federal check system and ultimately stopped using it. Keller told the Times that Wilde was sacked immediately after the Inspector General's Office concluded she had been negligent.

"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.

Upon discovery of this former employee's negligence in not conducting the further review required on 365 applications, we immediately completed full background checks on those 365 applications, which resulted in 291 revocations.

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Fernandez said he believes the Department of Agriculture will fix the problem. There are now 1.8 million concealed weapon permit holders in Florida. Records suggest that hundreds of thousands of people applied for permits in this time.

Asked why he did not inform the public when he learned about this a year ago, Putnam reiterated he acted quickly to revoke licenses and change the department's practices so it wouldn't happen again.

A Putnam spokesman said Friday that the employee responsible for the problem had been fired.

Watch: Adam Putnam answers reporters' questions about the investigation and reports.

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. Early in Putnam's term, it was discovered that his employees had trouble accessing the database because they were not law enforcement officers.

Wilde, who was found to be "negligent" by the investigators, admitted her fault, telling The Times that she was pressured into processing applications as fast as possible and "dropped the ball" on her other duties. "I should have been doing it and I didn't".

Background checks on permits were still carried out through two other databases, the Florida Crime Information Center database and the National Crime Information Center database.

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