Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Putnam: No mores lapse in background checks

Florida didn't conduct gun background checks for an entire year because an official couldn't log in Florida’s ‘proud NRA sellout’ didn’t do concealed gun background checks for a full year — because he couldn’t log in
Kenny Thornton | 10 June, 2018, 15:30

There were 134,000 requests for permits in the fiscal year ending in June 2015. "The next 12 months broke a record, 245,000 applications, which was topped again in 2017 when the department received 275,000 applications".

"Putnam asserted that "no one's safety was at risk" because those 291 people would not have been able to purchase a firearm".

During that time, 349,923 people applied for concealed weapons permits, Putnam said.

Now running for Florida governor as a Republican, Putnam's campaign touts his expansion of concealed carry permits as one of his top accomplishments.

"It's inconceivable Putnam's office could be so negligent, especially because the Pulse massacre in Orlando occurred during the same timeframe", Jason Lindsay, executive director of the Pride Fund, said in a statement. Putnam has raised the ire of gun control advocates for his proclamation previous year that he was a "proud NRA sellout" who supports the National Rifle Association. It was donations to Putnam that spawned the boycott and protests of the Public grocery chain.

"The integrity of our department's licensing program is our highest priority", said Aaron Keller, a department spokesman, when contacted Friday.

It said it did three different background checks on all the applicants.

Upon discovery of this former employee's negligence in not conducting the further review required on 365 applications, we immediately completed full background checks on those 365 applications, which resulted in 291 revocations. 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.

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The report states that DOL manager Lisa Wilde, who was supposed to use NICS, was having trouble logging in to her account at the database.

On April 7, 2016, 40 days after records show the department stopped using the database, Wilde reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that her log-in to the background check system wasn't working.

The final report issued in June 2017 states that an employee in the Division of Licensing did not run applications through the national system because she couldn't log into the database. The problem wasn't fixed until March 2017. He said a total of 365 applications were reviewed after the problem was discovered.

In the year since, there were fewer applications, about 200,000, but 2,000 more denials than the previous year when the federal background check system wasn't accessed.

Watch: Adam Putnam answers reporters' questions about the investigation and reports. The state has since fired Wilde and says any improper applications from that time were revoked.

The NICS flags people who shouldn't have access to firearms for reasons including criminal convictions, drug use, mental illness and domestic violence. The story was based on an Inspector General investigation launched by the department as soon as information indicated an employee failed to do her job completing background checks for concealed weapon licenses. This has caused issues before.

Putnam blamed the lapse on a negligent and "deceitful" employee. In 2012, he said his office had "closed the gap". 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 because of information gleaned from the national database. But the legislation was pulled after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland.

A subordinate, Robin James, who "acted as Wilde's back-up", had similar problems, but Wilde "never asked James to check the NICS after the login issue", the report says Wilde told investigators under oath. "I also want to know why, if this report was done a year ago, why are we just now finding out about this?"

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