Putnam: Background checks were done; my office didn't check them

Putnam: Background checks were done; my office didn't check them

The employee in charge of reviewing the background checks could not log into the system in April 2016, the investigator learned, and then stopped trying to gain access. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is required to screen potential applicants for any disqualifying history in other states.

All applications for concealed carry permits go through three background checks conducted by the Florida law enforcement: state and federal fingerprint-based searches of criminal records, and a name-based search through the NICS to search for non-criminal records, Putnam said at the news conference.

That's particularly damning since Putnam, in effect Florida's gun czar, campaigned on a determination to speed up concealed carry applications.

Putnam blamed the employee, whom he called "negligent and deceptive" for not acting on the results of the background check. In Florida, these background checks are used as indicators of eligibility for concealed weapon licenses.

Democrats reacted swiftly to news of the inspector general report, with some calling for further investigation and others for Putnam to resign.

When the department completed the full background checks with information from the NICS system on the 365 applications she failed to review, 291 licenses were ultimately revoked. And Philip Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, called for an investigation and said Putnam has forfeited "any moral right to lead". But the investigation said she didn't follow up after she continued to experience problems and never accessed the system again.

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". His campaign issued a statement saying some background checks were completed later, after officials found out about the lapse. She had worked for the licensing division for several years without a problem, he said.

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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.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said this negligence resulted in 365 individuals being allowed to purchase guns without proper approval.

Many pointed out that Putnam tweeted he was a "proud NRA sellout" a month after the investigation was concluded and submitted to his office.

The Tampa Bay Times first reported on the inspector general's report.

The Times interviewed the employee, Lisa Wilde, who told them she was working in the mailroom when she was given oversight of the database in 2013.

"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it". All five Democratic gubernatorial candidates - Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine - said Putnam should consider dropping out of the governor's race. These revocations could be due to mitigating factors such as drug usage, mental illness, and more non-criminal disqualifications for a concealed carry.

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