Putnam's office responds to Tampa Bay Times report
Jun 11 2018
Putnam, who has called himself a "proud NRA sellout" in the past, has listed his expansion of concealed carry permits in Florida as an accomplishment during his run for governor. "I didn't wait on a news story to take action".
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the employee in charge of the checks couldn't log into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and so approved tens of thousands of applications without the required check.
Florida's agriculture commissioner promises his office will never again fail to do follow-up on certain national background checks that could disqualify people from gaining permits to carry concealed weapons. The problem went unresolved until discovered by another worker in March 2017.
The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a national LGBTQ political organization focused on gun violence, expressed concern that while the background checks weren't made, the state may have issued concealed-weapons licenses "to drug addicts, people with mental illness, and others who should be barred from owning a gun".
"Background checks were done through FCIC (Florida Criminal Information Computer system) and NCIC (National Criminal Information Computer system - the national Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint database) and they also did a NICS check, which is the name-based background check system", she says.
That means 365 people who failed the background check got permits.
Democrats and gun control advocates quickly criticized Putnam over the incident and said he should resign. "These applications did undergo the background review". The employee is quoted in the report as saying that she "dropped the ball".
The Times reports that the problem was traced back to a single employee who was tasked with logging in to the NICS background check system.
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".
While the investigation dates back to past year, the report was only made public on Friday through a records request by The Tampa Bay Times.
"Career politicians like Mr. Putnam think this is just another bad day at the office - but when you hide a level of negligence that endangers every resident, and every child, in Florida, you forfeit any moral right to lead", said former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, one of the Democratic candidates running for governor.
Putnam gave no indication Saturday he was even considering it. The National Rifle Association has been a staunch supporter of Putnam in the past, and through his gubernatorial campaign.
"Adam has spent years campaigning for governor, basically, in this position and the report was very concerning because it seemed like he wasn't minding the store when we needed him to be there", DeSantis told reporters at a campaign appearance in Pensacola. Wilde did report the log-in failure, investigators say, but failed to follow up.
The report, which was forwarded to Putnam, recommends that the department "identify any NICS ineligible applicants that may have been erroneously issued".
"I'm here to solve problems", Putnam said. "I initiated the inspector general and the review of processes and procedures upon learning of this breakdown".