World Media

Putnam responds to criticism over gun background checks

Putnam responds to criticism over gun background checks

The state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits for more than a year, according to an Office of Inspector General report released Friday, June 8.

Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, however, called the lack of background checks an "example of gross neglect" and cited part of the Times story that said the now-fired employee had been promoted from the mailroom to be in charge of database checks.

Florida revoked nearly 300 concealed weapons permits after discovering that a state employee failed to review criminal background checks on applicants because she couldn't log into the system, according to a report by state officials.

Of those applicants, 291 had their permits revoked after the investigation in March 2017. "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.

Florida's most influential gun advocate is countering reports that hundreds of people may have mistakenly received the state's concealed weapons permits without proper background checks.

To be clear, a criminal background investigation was completed on every single one of the 349,923 concealed weapon license applications submitted from February 2016 to March 2017. There were 134,000 requests for permits in the fiscal year ending in June 2015.

When the department completed the full background checks with information from the NICS system on the 365 applications she failed to review, 291 licenses were ultimately revoked.

Announcing his gubernatorial bid in January, Putnam said that he made Florida "No 1 for law abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights". She reported her login problems to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on April 7, 2016, and never logged in again because the problems persisted. "Putnam's failure to fulfill the basic duties of his office raise serious questions about his ability to lead Florida". 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.

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The report from 2017 quotes the employee saying, "I dropped the ball".

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

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.

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

The report concluded Wilde as negligent in failing to send over these background checks.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has added safeguards to the application review process "to ensure this never happens again", according to a statement on its website.

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

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

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