The state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits for more than a year, according to an Office of Inspector General report released Friday, June 8.
An investigative report from the Office of Inspector General found that the employee in charge of using the NICS system stopped using it because she couldn't log in, the Times reports.
The previously-undisclosed IG report noted that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System - a nationwide database that cross-references applicants' records in other states - is "extremely important" because it ensures that people applying for concealed carry permits are legally qualified to own concealed weapons.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, there was a spike in concealed carry applications during that time period, likely due to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in July, with almost 350,000 concealed carry permit applications.
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. The background-check bungle coincided with the Pulse nightclub shooting, which took 50 lives, and a historic uptick in Florida concealed-weapons applications.
This coming a year after the Department of Agriculture's Inspector General finished their investigation in June 2017.
The problem, Putnam said, occurred when the employee failed to "follow up" on 365 applications from February 2016 to March 2017 that were flagged through the NICS search.
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But, the Department claimed that it had properly handled their employee's malfeasance upon learning of his failure. 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". A few Republicans also criticized Putnam, including Gov. Rick Scott, whose office said it was "blindsided" by the news.
"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. It said an employee stopped doing the checks because she couldn't log into the database.
The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has added safeguards to the application review process "to ensure this never happens again", according to a statement on its website.
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.
During the investigation into her conduct, the employee admitted she had "dropped the ball" and confessed she had not told anyone she had not been able to log on for a year. These revocations could be due to mitigating factors such as drug usage, mental illness, and more non-criminal disqualifications for a concealed carry.
"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", she told the Tampa Bay Times.
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