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Fla. Approved Concealed Gun Permits Without Background Checks

A screengrab from Adam Putnam's appearance on Fox News | YouTube

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.

In February 2016, an Office of Inspector General investigation found a "negligent" employee - later fired - admitted that because she wasn't able to log in to the FBI database, 291 permits were improperly licensed.

The Florida government did not conduct background checks on thousands of applicants for concealed weapons for a year because the state employee was unable to log into the system.

In 2012, he held a news conference to tout the state's one millionth concealed weapons permit, noting the time it took to process an application fell from 12 weeks to 35 days on his watch. "I know I did that, I should have been doing it and I didn't".

That's particularly damning since Putnam, in effect Florida's gun czar, campaigned on a determination to speed up concealed carry applications.

Putnam, who has portrayed a massive increase in concealed weapon license holders as his major achievement, has come under fire following the revelation, with anti-gun violence activists and Democrats calling on him to drop out of the race over a "gross dereliction of duty".

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. But in March 2017 an investigation was triggered after a state employee noted that the state was not getting any correspondence from people whose applications had been rejected due to information gleaned from the national database.

"I think they're tidying up shop as we speak and I think the department of agriculture's gonna do the best that they can to make sure that this never occurs again", Fernandez said. She never mitigated this issue. "As soon as we learned that one employee failed to review applicants' non-criminal disqualifying information, we immediately terminated the employee, thoroughly reviewed every application potentially impacted, and implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again".

Many pointed out that Putnam tweeted he was a "proud NRA sellout" a month after the investigation was concluded and submitted to his office.

"Wilde characterized her failure as negligent, and agreed it could cause an embarrassment to the agency", the report says.

He laid the blame exclusively on the employee who forgot the password had signaled the problem to another official but then failed to pursue the matter. Egregiously, of those 365, 291 individuals had their gun license revoked once a proper background check was completed.

It was the responsibility of this employee to review the 365 applications that did not pass the NICS system and the Inspector General's investigation determined she failed to do her job.

U.S. congressman Ron DeSantis, also a Republican candidate for governor, criticized Putnam on Saturday for the background checks problem, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it". In Florida, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for carrying out background checks for gun licenses.