291 concealed weapons permits revoked after employee stopped reviewing background checks

291 concealed weapons permits revoked after employee stopped reviewing background checks

291 concealed weapons permits revoked after employee stopped reviewing background checks

The Florida Department of Agriculture failed to do proper background checks on tens of thousands of people applying for concealed weapon carry permits for more than a year, according to an explosive report published by the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

An investigative report from the Office of Inspector General found that the employee in charge of using the NICS system stopped using it because she couldn't log in, the Times reports. And unfortunately, it was not discovered until March 2017 that applicants, for more than one year, had been approved without an NICS background check. That would be Republican Adam Putnam, the state's current Agriculture Commissioner who is also now running for governor.

Adam Putnam, Florida's Agriculture commissioner who headed the department, has bragged about the increased number of concealed carry permits, reports the Times. It was donations to Putnam that spawned the boycott and protests of the Public grocery chain.

"The former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again", Putnam said in a statement.

The only other employee who regularly accessed the database was a mailroom supervisor who was barely trained in the system, the report stated.

While the Office of Inspector General's investigation was ongoing, the department adopted safeguards into the application review process to ensure this never happens again. The state saw 134,000 requests in the fiscal year ending in June 2015, followed by an unprecedented 245,000 applications in 2016 and 275,000 in 2017.

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. 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.

"The headlines and the stories that say there were no background checks for a year [are] inaccurate and misleading", Putnam said.

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".

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

Later that day, Grea Bevis, the department's director of licensing, backtracked and said "the gap is not completely shut yet". Ultimately, permits were revoked for 291 people. But the legislation was pulled after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland. "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.

Wilde, who was found to be "negligent" by the investigators, admitted her fault, telling The Times that she was pressured into processing applications as fast as possible and "dropped the ball" on her other duties.

"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", she told the Tampa Bay Times.

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