Florida Failed on Background Checks for an Entire Year

A Florida agency in charge of vetting applicants for concealed gun carry permits didn't run tens of thousands of them against an Federal Bureau of Investigation database, as an employee could not log in.

"The integrity of our department's licensing program is our highest priority", Aaron Keller, a department spokesman, told the Times.

Lisa Wilde, the employee who was in charge of running background checks, has since been fired, although she admitted to the Times that she had been working in the mail room when she was first tasked with managing the database in 2013 and doesn't understand why she was put in charge of it in the first place.

To be clear, a criminal background investigation was completed on every single one of the 349,923 concealed weapon license application submitted from February 2016 to March 2017.

The lapse, revealed in an internal report that was not widely known about until Friday, occurred during a time period when there was a significant surge in the number of people seeking permission to legally carry a concealed weapon.

This coming a year after the Department of Agriculture's Inspector General finished their investigation in June 2017. It said an employee stopped doing the checks because she couldn't log into the database.

Mr Putnam said the department had added new steps to the procedure to prevent it happening it again. It wasn't until March of the next year another employee noticed a problem. She reached out to FDLE in April for help, but nothing got fixed and she never followed up after that.

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.

In a statement, Putnam said the "former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again".

That employee, a former mailroom worker, told the Times she was under pressure to quickly process applications and questioned why she was put in charge of this.

For more than a year, Florida failed to do national background checks that could have disqualified people from gaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"I will continue to hold all of my people accountable across the entire department for all of the responsibilities we have, including licensing, but not limited to licensing", Putnam said. - Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam made a campaign stop in Sun City Center on Saturday afternoon.

Putnam said the employee no longer works for his department. These revocations could be due to mitigating factors such as drug usage, mental illness, and more non-criminal disqualifications for a concealed carry. Florida does not allow the open carry of weapons, but more than 1.9 million have permits to carry guns and weapons in public if they are concealed. Wilde did report the log-in failure, investigators say, but failed to follow up.

Employees in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using the database for more than a year, an investigation found.

  • Rogelio Becker