Putnam’s office failed to do background checks for a year

ADAM PUTNAM | IMAGE VIA FRESH FROM FLORIDA

Florida failed to perform national background checks on thousands of applications for concealed-weapon permits for over a year, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

A Florida agency in charge of vetting applicants for concealed gun carry permits didn't run tens of thousands of them against an Federal Bureau of Investigation database, as an employee could not log in. He celebrated the state's millionth concealed weapon permit in 2012 and bragged that the length of the process went down from 35 days to a mere 12 days during his tenure. "I also want to know why, if this report was done a year ago, why are we just now finding out about this?"

Florida's GOP agriculture commissioner failed to conduct background checks for concealed carry permits for over a year because his staff was unable to log into the required database.

"I called for this investigation", Putnam said Saturday.

Putnam recently proposed legislation that would require concealed carry permits to be approved in the case of inconclusive background checks that would otherwise put an application in limbo, but he dropped it after the Parkland shooting.

According to the inspector general's report, NICS checks are considered "extremely important" and the lack of such checks for over a year may have resulted in concealed weapons permits being "issued to potentially ineligible individuals".

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. Now, he said, there are more "eyeballs" making sure the work is complete and a "more seamless technology transfer" of the NICS background check results. She reached out to FDLE in April for help, but nothing got fixed and she never followed up after that. When the actions of what Putnam called the "negligent and deceptive employee" were discovered, the previously-run background checks for all 350,000 applicants were pulled and reviewed.

The Times interviewed the employee, Lisa Wilde, who told them she was working in the mailroom when she was given oversight of the database in 2013.

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

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 followup investigation led the department to revoke 291 permits, Putnam said. The problem wasn't fixed until March 2017.

Since 2003, Florida has housed concealed weapons permitting under the Department of Agriculture.

"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", Wilde told the newspaper. All five Democratic gubernatorial candidates - Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine - said Putnam should consider dropping out of the governor's race.

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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