An Office of Inspector General report from June 2017 -- obtained by the Times in a public records request -- said that between February 2016 and March 2017, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services didn't access an Federal Bureau of Investigation crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System because an employee was unable to log into the system.
"As soon as we learned that one employee failed to review applicants' non-criminal disqualifying information, we immediately terminated the employee, thoroughly reviewed every application potentially impacted, and implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again".
Florida got the NICS system back online in March of 2017 after a worker discovered that no one had bothered to log in, or complain about being unable to log in, for more than a year while numerous applications were approved without the legally-required background check.
The number of concealed carry permit applications surged in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, which left 49 people dead and 53 injured after gunman Omar Mateen opened fire on revelers on June 12, 2016. There were 134,000 requests for permits in the fiscal year ending in June 2015. Now, the Department of Agriculture is setting the record straight. And Philip Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, called for an investigation and said Putnam has forfeited "any moral right to lead". He expedited over 75,000 Florida concealed weapon license applications for active military members and veterans. If it came out they weren't conducted, "this could cause an embarrassment to the agency", the report said.
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The news, which has sent shockwaves across Twitter, is now being leveraged by Democrats and anti-gun advocates against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for Governor.
The full statement from his office, as well as a full statement from Putnam, can be seen below. He is a major defender of access to guns and has declared himself a proud "NRA sellout". It was donations to Putnam that spawned the boycott and protests of the Public grocery chain.
He said, "The integrity of our department's licensing program is our highest priority".
In a statement Friday night, Putnam said "a criminal background investigation was completed on every single application".
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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. The Times reports that Wilde could not log in to the federal check system and ultimately stopped using it. Keller told the Times that Wilde was sacked immediately after the Inspector General's Office concluded she had been negligent.
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. But, any law is useless if it is not enforced. Wilde didn't follow up with the agency, however, and the agency apparently never followed up with her either-allowing the problem to continue for months thereafter.
In March of 2017, another employee wondered why the department had not recently received any notices of denials, "which was unusual". But the report indicated that the department may not have a backup system to ensure the task was completed. Therefore, the background check information was not considered in the permit issuing process during that time.
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