The state of Florida failed to conduct background checks on gun permits for more than a year because the employee in charge could not log in to the system, Miami Herald reports.
This is truly alarming at a time when the debate surrounding gun control continues to rock the nation, especially after the Parkland school massacre saw Florida lose several lives to gun violence earlier this year.
The revelation came to light after a previously unreported Office of Inspector General investigation found that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using an FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in February 2016. The background check system made sure that gun permits were not handed out to drug addicts or people with mental health problems, but the fact that Florida didn’t conduct the checks could now mean that those people might have received permits who would otherwise be rejected to carry firearms in other states.
More than a year after Florida stopped conducting background checks, in March 2017, another employee discovered the aberration, but the damage had already been done.
For instance, applications to carry concealed weapons saw an exponential spike after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando which left 50 people dead — the date of the attack coinciding with the time when Florida failed to conduct background checks.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spoke to the Inspector General about failing to conduct the background checks, admitting the NICS checks are “extremely important,” and that if it came out in public that the department hadn’t conducted them, it “could cause an embarrassment to the agency.”
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had made it a priority to streamline applications to carry concealed weapons since he was elected in 2010. Putnam even likes to brag about how he has helped more Floridians carry concealed weapons, boasting during a news conference in 2012 that while it used to take up to 12 weeks for an application to be approved, it took less than 35 days in his charge.
Putnam has been a great supporter of gun rights, even tweeting that he was a “proud NRA sellout” after investigators had found that his office had been responsible for botching thousands of background checks.
As of now, there are 1.8 million concealed weapon permit holders in the state of Florida, and it is truly alarming to know that a significant portion of those permits might have been approved because an employee failed to log into a backgrounds checks system.