A Florida commissioner has promised “extra eyeballs” in his office after a report found background checks on applicants for weapons licences were not completed for a year.
Adam Putnam, Florida’s agricultural commissioner, admitted that an employee in his office failed to look at background checks for non-criminal offences, after finding she was unable to log on to the system.
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.
The employee failed to log on to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which had flagged 365 applicants as potentially ineligible for a concealed weapon license.
The employee was sacked and 291 permits were revoked.
But in a press conference Mr Putnam criticised the Tampa Bay Times article on the report, which stated tens of thousands of applications to carry concealed weapons were not checked as “wrong and misleading”.
Mr Putnam, who is also a Republican candidate for governor in the state, said the situation was “serious”, adding: “We took immediate action.”
The headlines and stories that say that there were no background checks for a year are flat wrong, misleading and must be corrected. Today I set the record straight: https://t.co/qxbISog7zE
— Adam Putnam (@adamputnam) June 9, 2018
He said two other types of check on those wishing to carry guns in public “never stopped”.
However, flags raised by one part of the system were then not checked by his department, and the applications were approved.
He said: “No one’s safety was put at risk. None of the 365 individuals that our negligent employee failed to follow up on would have been eligible to purchase a firearm.
“The same NICS database that produced the flag of disqualifying information she did not follow up on would have prevented their point of sale purchase of a firearm.”
The employee first discovered she couldn’t log on in February 2016, and the failure wasn’t spotted until March 2017.
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.
Mr Putnam said the department had added new steps to the procedure to prevent it happening it again.