Calling it 'political attack,' NRA (wo)mansplains weapons permit snafu

Aaron Brown
June 11, 2018

After Florida officials had trouble logging into the Federal Bureau of Investigation crime database to determine whether or not to approve concealed weapons permit applications, tens of thousands of applicants were approved to carry firearms without ever receiving a required background check, Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

An investigation by the inspector general of the state's Agriculture Department, which issues such permits, found that it had stopped using an FBI crime database from February 2016 to March 2017 because an employee had forgotten a password needed to log into the system.

Democrats and gun-control advocates took aim Friday at Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam after the Tampa Bay Times reported that a former employee of Putnam's agency failed for more than a year to conduct national background checks on applications for concealed weapons licenses.

All applications for concealed carry permits go through three background checks conducted by the Florida law enforcement: state and federal fingerprint-based searches of criminal records, and a name-based search through the NICS to search for non-criminal records, Putnam said at the news conference. "I know I did that, I should have been doing it and I didn't".

During his time as commissioner, Putnam has frequently touted his pro-Second Amendment bona fides, specifically his office's efforts to streamline the process of applying for concealed weapons permits.

Many on Twitter went after Putnam, mainly Democratic politicians and anti-gun activists.

According to Hammer, the Division of Licensing under DOACS did perform background checks on applicants for licenses to carry concealed weapons or firearms.

The June 5, 2017 report, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times in a records request, concluded that the employee in charge of background checks, Lisa Wilde, was negligent.

But, the Department claimed that it had properly handled their employee's malfeasance upon learning of his failure.

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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".

We responded to the email from Putnam's office, asking why the commissioner didn't immediately publicly address the investigation after it was finished past year.

In the recent legislative session, Putnam proposed legislation that would require permits to be approved in cases when an application is in limbo because background checks are inconclusive.

Upon discovery of this former employee's negligence in March of 2017, the department immediately launched an audit of the 365 applications she failed to review.

The report came to light Friday when the Tampa Bay Times reported on the problem.

The agency later identified 365 applications the employee oversaw as "problematic".

United States congressman Ron DeSantis, also a Republican candidate for governor, criticized Putnam on Saturday for the background checks problem, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", Wilde told the newspaper.

The NICS flags people who shouldn't have access to firearms for reasons including criminal convictions, drug use, mental illness and domestic violence.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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