Putnam's office responds to Tampa Bay Times report

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

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the state of Florida failed to conduct certain background checks for applicants seeking to obtain a concealed carry license for more than a year because the employee in charge of the system could not log in into the Federal Bureau of Investigation database.

He said, "The integrity of our department's licensing program is our highest priority".

Lisa Wilde, the employee who was in charge of running background checks, has since been fired, although she admitted to the Times that she had been working in the mail room when she was first tasked with managing the database in 2013 and doesn't understand why she was put in charge of it in the first place.

It said it did three different background checks on all the applicants.

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. It said an employee stopped doing the checks because she couldn't log into the database.

At a news conference Saturday, Putnam said when his office learned of the problem, it reviewed 365 concealed weapons applications flagged through the NICS search.

He laid the blame exclusively on the employee who forgot the password had signaled the problem to another official but then failed to pursue the matter.

He said multiple entities, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, provide background check information to his office, which then reviews the information and decides whether to approve or deny a particular applicant.

Responding to the criticism, Putnam's office said that the agency promptly took measures to rectify the error, "immediately" reviewing 365 applications, and 291 permits were annulled as a result.

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The candidate in question: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is now running for Governor and proclaimed a year ago to be a "proud NRA sellout".

It was the responsibility of this employee to review the 365 applications that did not pass the NICS system and the Inspector General's investigation determined she failed to do her job.

During that time, 349,923 people applied for concealed weapons permits, Putnam said.

As of May 31, there were more than 1.9 million concealed-weapons licenses issued by the state.

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

In Florida, it is also used to background check an applicant for a concealed weapons permit for any out-of-state offenses.

Although those applicants did indeed receive licenses to carry firearms, Hammer makes an important distinction: "They still would not have been allowed to purchase a firearm from a firearms dealer because the same NICS background check would have been performed by a dealer and would have stopped them from purchasing a firearm". "How many? One. So, you know, if [Putnam] wants to equivocate on numbers like that, that's not looking so good for him I think", said Holly Hill, a Winter Haven resident.

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.

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