Florida revoked nearly 300 concealed weapons permits after discovering that a state employee failed to review criminal background checks on applicants because she couldn't log into the system, according to a report by state officials.
The employee acknowledged to investigators that she hadn't accessed the NICS background check system during that time period because of a login error.
It said it did three different background checks on all the applicants.
The fiscal year ending in 2017 saw 275,000 applications.
Notably, the employee in question, Lisa Wilde, reported the problem to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on April 7, 2016-some 40 days after she was first unable to log in.
While the Office of Inspector General's investigation was ongoing, the department adopted safeguards into the application review process to ensure this never happens again.
Putnam blamed the problem on the negligence of a department employee.
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".
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From July 2016 through June 2017, which covers most of the period when the system wasn't accessed, 268,000 applications were approved and 6,470 were denied for reasons like an incomplete application or the state discovered they were ineligible, according to the state Agriculture Department's annual concealed weapons permit report. "Putnam's gross mismanagement of the concealed carry system likely put guns into the hands of the wrong people and put the lives of thousands of Floridians at risk", said FDP chair Terrie Rizzo in a statement.
Statistics compiled by the department show that from the summer of 2015 to the summer of 2017, the number of new applications for concealed-weapon permits jumped dramatically, to its highest level in 25 years.
The news, which has sent shockwaves across Twitter, is now being leveraged by Democrats and anti-gun advocates against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for Governor. Now, he said, there are more "eyeballs" making sure the work is complete and a "more seamless technology transfer" of the NICS background check results.
The followup investigation led the department to revoke 291 permits, Putnam said. Florida does not allow the open carry of weapons, but more than 1.9 million have permits to carry guns and weapons in public if they are concealed. The Division of Licensing is housed under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service.
During the investigation into her conduct, the employee admitted she had "dropped the ball" and confessed she had not told anyone she had not been able to log on for a year.
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.
The NCIS is used to screen for "non-criminal disqualifying offenses". "How many? One. So, you know, if [Putnam] wants to equivocate on numbers like that, that's not looking so good for him I think", said Holly Hill, a Winter Haven resident. "I should have been doing it and I didn't".
"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", Wilde told the newspaper.