Putnam Draws Fire After Background Checks Report

Adam Putnam touts his efforts to expand concealed carry gun permits in Florida in a Facebook

The investigation by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Office of Inspector General found an employee at the department stopped using a national FBI database - because she couldn't log in to it.

When determining eligibility for purchasing a firearm, applicants must undergo a background check known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Shockingly irresponsible - for over a year, #FL failed to run proper background checks for concealed carry permits".

Putnam is running for governor and has pushed to make it easier for people to get a concealed weapons permit. In Florida, these background checks are used as indicators of eligibility for concealed weapon licenses.

Some pointed out that the negligence of one employee in Florida might have endangered lives in other states, as a concealed carry permit issued in Florida is also valid in 36 other states. And when the Office of Inspector General provided the results of its investigation to the Department, his office immediately backtracked and reviewed the 365 applications.

The Department, meanwhile, said that it "immediately" fired the employee after becoming aware of her non-compliance with the procedure, and it "thoroughly reviewed every application potentially impacted".

"The employee in charge of the background checks could not log into the system", the Times' report noted based on the IG report.

As Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam expanded the state's concealed weapon license program so it is now the largest in the country.

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Of those, Putnam's office conducted a further review on 365 applicants and then revoked 291 of their concealed carry permits.

Asked why he did not inform the public when he learned about this a year ago, Putnam reiterated he acted quickly to revoke licenses and change the department's practices so it wouldn't happen again. Records suggest that hundreds of thousands of people applied for permits in this time. And Philip Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, called for an investigation and said Putnam has forfeited "any moral right to lead". Someone from his office responded by re-copying and pasting the statement from Friday night, with an attached copy of the investigation report.

The system will flag applicants who have served time in prison for more than a year, are convicted of drug use in the past year, are undocumented immigrants or were involuntarily committed or deemed to have a "mental defect" by a court or dishonorably discharged from the military.

Putnam blamed the lapse on a negligent and "deceitful" employee.

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.

The commissioner explained the process by which checks are done on applicants who apply for concealed carry permits.

"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.