Employee's negligence on background checks has Putnam under fire

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Commissioner of Agriculture and GOP candidate for Governor Adam Putnam is under fire after an employee overlooked disqualifying information for more than 300 concealed weapons applicants and issued permits to them anyway.

Information on people buying a gun in Florida is run through three databases. Gun dealer Mark Folmar said a concealed carry permit eliminates a waiting period, but not background checks.

“They would have to pass a criminal background check before we could give than a gun, even if they had a concealed weapons permit” Folmar said.

For more than a year an employee at the Department of Agriculture overlooked disqualifying information. New background checks were run on 365 people. 291 were disqualified and had their permits revoked.

The person responsible was fired, and the department said safeguards are in place. The NRA sent out a weekend alert, explaining the problem to its membership.

“One point eight million license holders had doubt cast upon them, and we needed to clear the record” said former NRA President Marion Hammer.

In a rare Saturday news conference, Putnam said the original story was wrong.

“The headlines and the stories that say there were no background checks for a year is inaccurate and misleading," Putnam said.

But Mom’s Demand Action Spokesperson Kate Kile said the problem is an agency too eager to push permits out the door.

“What we believe is that there should be an abundance of caution, and we should look through every piece of information that’s relevant” Kile said.

Following the Parkland shooting, Putnam dropped plans to expedite concealed carry permits when background checks were inconclusive.

Two Democratic State Senators, one who represents Orlando where the  Pulse night club shooting took place, and the other Parkland, called for an investigation Monday into the permit mishap.  In recent years, the state has lowered the cost of a concealed carry permit and made it easier for people to apply by allowing local tax collectors to handle the paperwork.

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