Putnam: Background checks were done; my office didn't check them

Putnam: Background checks were done; my office didn't check them

Putnam: Background checks were done; my office didn't check them

After Florida officials had trouble logging into the Federal Bureau of Investigation crime database to determine whether or not to approve concealed weapons permit applications, tens of thousands of applicants were approved to carry firearms without ever receiving a required background check, Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

It said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation database was mainly used to check for "non-criminal disqualifying offenses", and that the criminal background checks, while available through the Federal Bureau of Investigation system, were conducted via other databases that continued to be available to the employees.

Critics say Florida's agriculture commissioner should resign because of the lapse in checks.

"There are now 1.8 million active hide weapon license holders in Florida, No. 1 in the nation, up from 800,000 before I came in (to the Agriculture Department)", he boasted. It was donations to Putnam that spawned the boycott and protests of the Public grocery chain.

In a tweet posted last July - and a month after investigators found that his office had botched thousands of background checks - Putnam claimed he was a "Proud NRA sellout". 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.

At a news conference Saturday, Putnam said when his office learned of the problem, it reviewed 365 concealed weapons applications flagged through the NICS search.

The Times' report also accuses the Bartow Republican of hiding the snafu for almost a year.

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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.

The report, which was forwarded to Putnam, recommends that the department "identify any NICS ineligible applicants that may have been erroneously issued".

Those people could have had histories of drug addiction, mental health issues, been dishonorably discharged from the military, or a number of other things the NICS searches for. Florida also uses it to check for out-of-state offenses that would disqualify a person from getting a concealed weapons permit, the Times reported.

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". This has caused issues before. In 2012, he said his office had "closed the gap". Egregiously, of those 365, 291 individuals had their gun license revoked once a proper background check was completed. But the legislation was pulled after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland. The employee is quoted in the report as saying that she "dropped the ball". The Department of Agriculture said she failed to do that review.

Yet on Friday, Wilde told the Times she had been working in the mailroom when she was given oversight of the database in 2013.

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

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