Putnam’s office failed to do background checks for a year

Erika Holt
June 11, 2018

According to a February 2016 investigative report from Florida's Inspector General, first reported by the Tampa Bay Times, a state Division of Licensing employee identified as Lisa Wilde was unable to log into the system to actually complete these background checks.

While there are no statistics as to exactly how many applications went unchecked during that time, it may be well over 260,000, as within the fiscal year from July 2016 to June 2017, a total of 268,000 applications were approved, while 6,470 were denied.

Adam Putnam, who is a Republican candidate for governor, held a news conference on Saturday in Sun City Center, Florida to defend himself against critics who say he should resign because of the lapse.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, there was a spike in concealed carry applications during that time period, likely due to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in July, with almost 350,000 concealed carry permit applications. It was donations to Putnam that spawned the boycott and protests of the Public grocery chain.

He noted that proper background checks were performed on all 349,923 permit applicants during the 12-month period.

"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 Times reports that the problem was traced back to a single employee who was tasked with logging in to the NICS background check system. The lapse was revealed in an inspector general's report sent to Putnam in 2017.

"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.

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You might've seen headlines about this, claiming the state didn't background check applicants for more than a year.

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 has more than 1.9 million people licensed to carry concealed weapons.

In Florida, it is also used to background check an applicant for a concealed weapons permit for any out-of-state offenses. This has caused issues before. But, any law is useless if it is not enforced.

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

"I am extremely alarmed at the failure by Commissioner Putnam to disclose that his agency had failed to conduct these critical background checks - allowing possibly mentally disturbed individuals and others who should be disqualified, to be legally armed in Florida", Stewart said.

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. Furthermore, where were her superiors with this lack of oversight?

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

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