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Putnam rips concealed weapons story, acknowledges failure to review background checks

Putnam rips concealed weapons story, acknowledges failure to review background checks

After Florida officials had trouble logging into the Federal Bureau of Investigation crime database to determine whether or not to approve concealed weapons permit applications, tens of thousands of applicants were approved to carry firearms without ever receiving a required background check, Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

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.

Florida authorities approved concealed-carry pistol permits for more than a year without conducting complete background checks - because two state workers couldn't log in to an FBI database, according to results of an internal investigation made public on Friday.

Of those applicants, 291 had their permits revoked after the investigation in March 2017.

"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.

During his time as commissioner, Putnam has frequently touted his pro-Second Amendment bona fides, specifically his office's efforts to streamline the process of applying for concealed weapons permits.

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Nevertheless, several Democrats - including Putnam's opponents in the governor's race - have called for his resignation from both his job and the Governor's race.

A Florida commissioner has promised "extra eyeballs" in his office after a report showed background checks on applicants wishing to carry concealed weapons were not reviewed for a year.

Data on the state's website shows the Division of Licensing handled nearly 275,000 new concealed weapon applications and nearly 175,000 renewals in the 12 months from July 1, 2016, until June 30, 2017.

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.

"I think they're tidying up shop as we speak and I think the department of agriculture's gonna do the best that they can to make sure that this never occurs again", Fernandez said.

Spectrum Bay News 9 asked why nothing was done to correct the login issue in the first place, as the investigation revealed that the employee had emailed IT about it in 2016.

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A Putnam spokesman said Friday that the employee responsible for the problem had been fired.

"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.

USA congressman Ron DeSantis, also a Republican candidate for governor, criticized Putnam on Saturday for the background checks problem, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The state used the national system to see if there were reasons such as mental illness or drug addictions that should prevent someone from being issued a concealed-weapons permit.

"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", Wilde told the newspaper.

Since 2003, Florida has housed concealed weapons permitting under the Department of Agriculture.

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