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Putnam: Background checks were done; my office didn't check them

11 June, 2018, 02:50 | Author: Priscilla Morrison

Adam Putnam, Florida's agricultural commissioner, admitted that an employee in his office failed to review background checks for non-criminal offences, after finding she was unable to log on to the system.

The story was based on an Inspector General investigation launched by the department as soon as information indicated an employee failed to do her job completing background checks for concealed weapon licenses.

Exactly how many? According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida experienced a record surge of applications for concealed weapons permits in three separate years: (1) 134,000 such requests in 2015; (2) 245,000 requests in 2016; and 275,000 requests in 2017.

During that time, which coincided with the June 12, 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 50 dead, the state saw an unprecedented spike in applications for concealed weapons permits.

"A license to carry does not exempt a person from the background check required when you purchase a firearm", she says.

Today, the Tampa Bay Times published a report titled "Adam Putnam's office stopped concealed weapons background checks for a year because it couldn't log in".

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

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".

Democrats reacted swiftly to news of the inspector general report, with some calling for further investigation and others for Putnam to resign.

Department employees interviewed in the investigation called the NICS checks "extremely important", the report said, and if it came out they weren't accessed, "this could cause an embarrassment to the agency". And Philip Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, called for an investigation and said Putnam has forfeited "any moral right to lead". She never mitigated this issue.

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".

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. The problem wasn't fixed until March 2017. In Florida, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for carrying out background checks for gun licenses.

Spectrum Bay News 9 asked why nothing was done to correct the login issue in the first place, as the investigation revealed that the employee had emailed IT about it in 2016.

The report states that DOL manager Lisa Wilde, who was supposed to use NICS, was having trouble logging in to her account at the database. Egregiously, of those 365, 291 individuals had their gun license revoked once a proper background check was completed.

Wilde also told the paper that she was a mail room worker before getting promoted to conduct background checks in 2013, adding: "I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it". Putnam is a Republican candidate for governor.

The NCIS is used to screen for "non-criminal disqualifying offenses".



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