Florida authorities have revoked hundreds of concealed carry permits after it was discovered the permittees were legally ineligible to receive their permit, but slipped through the cracks due to one state employee's negligence.
The issue has garnered national attention in recent days due to the implications it has in the Florida gubernatorial race.
The Office of Inspector General investigation for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a June 2017 report that in Feb. 2016, the employee in charge of running concealed carry permit applicants through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System stopped doing so.
The reason? Because that employee was unable to log into the system. And unfortunately, it was not discovered until March 2017 that applicants, for more than one year, had been approved without an NICS background check.
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 nearly 350,000 concealed carry permit applications.
Because of the employee's negligence, hundreds of concealed carry permits were issued to Floridians ineligible to possess one. Ultimately, 291 permits were revoked.
The employee was terminated once her negligence was brought to light.
What does this have to do with the governor's race?
The story, which the Times first reported, has brought negative attention to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who also happens to be the leading Republican in the tight governor's race.
As the Times noted, Putnam made it a priority of his to increase the number of CCP's under his leadership — and he has. According to WKMG-TV, more than 1.9 million Floridians now possess a CCP.
How did Putnam respond?
In a statement, Putnam's department said:
To be clear, a criminal background investigation was completed on every single one of the 349,923 concealed weapon license applications submitted from February 2016 to March 2017. All applicants for a Florida concealed weapon license submit fingerprints that are checked against the Florida Crime Information Center database (FCIC), National Crime Information Center database (NCIC) and National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for disqualifying offenses.
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. Upon discovery of this former employee's negligence in March of 2017, the department immediately launched an audit of the 365 applications she failed to review.
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. While the Office of Inspector General’s investigation was ongoing, the department adopted safeguards into the application review process to ensure this never happens again.
A concealed weapon license does not authorize the purchase of a firearm. Anyone seeking to purchase a gun must undergo a background check performed by (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement) at the time of purchase.