Demands background checks be re-run by FDLE to protect Floridians’ safety
State Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) on Friday called on Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to immediately resign following the disclosure that his agency failed to conduct national background checks, allowing possibly dangerous individuals to obtain concealed carry permits.
She also called for the background checks to be handed off to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and for those under question to be re-run through the FBI’s crime database.
“I am extremely alarmed at the failure by Commissioner Putnam to disclose that his agency had failed to conduct these critical background checks – allowing possibly mentally disturbed individuals and others who should be disqualified, to be legally armed in Florida,” said Stewart. “I’m equally alarmed that officials from his agency tried to conceal the lax oversight by pushing legislation to cover up that failure, and downplayed the real reasons for the bill.
“He needs to resign.”
During the 2018 legislative session, Senator Stewart said that officials from Putnam’s agency came to her office to push for passage of legislation that would have required concealed permits to be approved if the applications had lingered.
Asked about why such a move was necessary, the Senator said that Putnam’s representatives downplayed the motives, insisting that it was more of a housekeeping move, and not a big deal.
That provision was only pulled from consideration following the Parkland massacre.
“These are the kinds of tricks that cannot be tolerated,” said Senator Stewart. “Lives were put in jeopardy by their attempts to conceal what had actually happened, and remain in danger now because of their ineptitude. This process needs to be immediately taken over by FDLE and these applications need to be re-examined.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services failed to run applicants for concealed carry permits through the FBI crime database for more than a year because an employee of the agency could not log in.
The failure means that those individuals who should have been barred from receiving a permit due to disqualifying backgrounds, such as a mental illness, were never flagged.