TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The success of a case aimed at preventing delays in firearm background checks is in jeopardy because the state is destroying records vital to the plaintiffs.
The debate played out in a Tallahassee courtroom Tuesday. As many as 25,000 people may have been temporarily denied the right to purchase a gun.
They haven’t been told no, but they were told the decision is pending, which prompted the lawsuit.
The 53 page filing by Florida Carry argued not getting a solid yes or no within 24 hours has deprived people of their constitutional right to own a gun.
“FDLE has put these people in a position of they have no rights,” said Eric Friday with Florida Carry. "They have no due process. They have no way to challenge FDLE’s non action.”
The state argued a provision of the school safety law passed last year, superseded the 24 hour timeframe to get a background check done.
The state’s lawyers said the provision makes sure people don’t fall through the cracks.
“Do what it needed to do in terms of the background check process to make sure it got it right,” said Rob Sniffen, a FDLE Attorney.
Under Florida law, the Department of Law Enforcement is required to destroy all records of a background check within 48 hours. That’s a problem for the plaintiffs because they need the records to prove their case.
A judge gave lawyers until July 12 to work out a compromise.
Florida Carry said the problem is that every time it named a defendant, the state makes a final decision on the background check.
“They’ve said, ‘The case is moot, we’ve satisfied these people now. So there’s no case',” said Friday.
Florida Carry said it will keep adding new defendants, until, as it said, the state stops playing games.
The state has an appeal pending at the First District Court of Appeal, questioning whether it can legally keep the records from the plaintiffs' background checks that show delays.