Hundreds of concealed weapons licenses revoked in Fla. because of employee's negligence


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.

An investigation by the inspector general of the state's Agriculture Department, which issues such permits, found that it had stopped using an FBI crime database from February 2016 to March 2017 because an employee had forgotten a password needed to log into the system.

The state of Florida, home to the second deadliest mass shooting on American soil andthe Parkland massacre earlier this year, went for more than a year without running Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits. "I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", she added.

Putnam is the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which is charged with conducting background checks on concealed weapons permit applications.

Several state leaders have called for his resignation.

McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, said the governor's office was never provided a copy of the inspector general's report.

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.

But, the Department claimed that it had properly handled their employee's malfeasance upon learning of his failure.

Rather than attempt to fix the problem, the employee was said to have "purposely failed to perform essential job duties", with an internal investigation concluding she was "negligent".

Responding to the criticism, Putnam's office said that the agency promptly took measures to rectify the error, "immediately" reviewing 365 applications, and 291 permits were annulled as a result.

"It's inconceivable Putnam's office could be so negligent, especially because the Pulse massacre in Orlando occurred during the same timeframe", Jason Lindsay, executive director of the Pride Fund, said in a statement.

"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.

The agency later identified 365 applications the employee oversaw as "problematic".

Emails included in the report said the employee tried to get online-access help from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in April 2016 and told someone she was having login problems. The Division of Licensing is housed under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service.

The employee was terminated once her negligence was brought to light. A few Republicans also criticized Putnam, including Gov. Rick Scott, whose office said it was "blindsided" by the news.

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.