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Florida official blunders background checks

Florida official blunders background checks
Photo from @AdamPutnam

How one employee failed the state of Florida

On June 12, 2016, 49 people were gunned down and 53 were wounded in one of the deadliest shootings in our country’s history.

The Pulse Nightclub shooting happened just four months after an interesting bureaucratic blip in the system.

Starting in February 2016, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was no longer running background checks on applications for concealed weapons permits. The FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is meant to ensure applicants do not have a criminal history that disqualifies them from carrying a gun.

Surely, an office tasked with such a crucial role regarding such a politically-charged topic must have a valid reason for not running background checks. Nope. The employee forgot his password.

Rather than jumping through the bureaucratic hoops to get it back, this employee simply decided not to perform the background checks at all.

The problem was discovered over a year later in March of 2017. Annual applications more than doubled over the course of two years the political glitch occurred in.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that there were 134,000 permit requests in the fiscal year ending in June 2015. In 2016 and 2017, there were 245,000 and 275,000 requests, respectively. The two fiscal years this error spanned each broke records for permit applications.

Florida’s own Agriculture Commissioner has had a rocky race for governor so far. On the surface, Adam Putnam appears to be handling it well.

Putnam made speeding up the concealed weapons permit process a top priority when he was elected in 2010, so it doesn’t look too great that this political blunder happened under his watch.

Just one month after the investigation found that Putnam’s office had botched a year’s worth of background checks, Putnam tweeted that he was a “Proud NRA sellout”.

Florida, the nation’s most problematic swing state, has become the center of the gun control debate after the February 14 Parkland shooting. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School rallied their efforts into the March for Our Lives campaign.

When news broke of Putnam’s office failing to perform background checks, many accused Putnam of breaking the law. The Democratic candidates around the country called for Putnam to drop out of the race due to incompetence.

Putnam maintains that only about 300 permits were wrongfully issued, all of which were rescinded. His office claims that the employee failing to perform background checks was only in charge of the applications flagged for further review.

The accusations against Putnam and his office are stacking up. If further investigation discovers that all 300,000 permits issue during this time frame didn’t receive background check clearance, it is possible that all of the permits will be rescinded. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services can also be found criminally liable for any crimes committed using guns allowed by these permits.

Putnam’s office made sure that the employee was removed from the position.

This crack in the bureaucratic process shines light on a larger issue. Even the National Rifle Association addressed concerns over the failure of Putnam’s office to do its job.

With so many on the left calling for more gun control and so many on the right saying there is already too much, I think all can agree that we need to be questioning whether the control works in the first place.

Liberals have used this issue to complain that many probably received concealed weapons permits when they should not have. Conservatives have argued that this is a clear example of why gun control is a bad idea in the first place.

Nevertheless, we should all be asking why one person has so much responsibility. Why can one person’s mistake affect the lives of thousands? Why should we add more regulation in when the regulators aren’t doing their jobs?

As usual, most people are looking at this as an individual issue, few are wondering how often things like this regularly occur nationwide, and no one is investigating it.

About The Author

Sam Palmisano

Sam Palmisano is a freshman dual-majoring in economics and marketing. Sam loves kayaking and ping pong. Outside of Eagle News, Sam is a member of the Honors program and Student Conduct Committee, and serves as President of the Palmetto Hall Area Council. His goals are to be a political economist and to one day run for Congress. You can find Sam getting into arguments on social media or playing frisbee on the library lawn.

1 Comment

  1. “On June 12, 2016, 49 people were gunned down and 53 were wounded in one of the deadliest shootings in our country’s history.
    The Pulse Nightclub shooting happened just four months after an interesting bureaucratic blip in the system.
    Starting in February 2016, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was no longer running background checks on applications for CONCEALED WEAPONS permits.”

    Since the two shootings mentioned in this article didn’t involve concealed weapons, why are they being mentioned at all?

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