Many proponents of the Second Amendment rely on the existing set of laws and regulations to help keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Yet these laws can break down, as they did recently when one state issued concealed carry permits even though an employee had stopped checking applicants’ criminal histories.
“For over a year, Florida allowed citizens to obtain concealed weapon permits without a background check because an employee couldn’t log in to a national database that tracked people deemed unfit to own weapons in other states, a previously unreported government investigation has revealed,” The Huffington Post writes.
The problem reportedly began in February of 2016. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services “stopped using an FBI crime database because an employee in charge of background checks could not log in to the system,” HP writes.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is a crucial step in concealed carry applications, and in gun purchases. Anyone with a criminal history or documented mental illness is supposed to be in this system.
In March of 2017, the problem was corrected. The state agriculture department’s Office of Inspector General conducted an investigation. An employee, Lisa Wilde, was identified as the one responsible.
“I dropped the ball ― I know I did that, I should have been doing it and I didn’t,” Wilde said.
Just how many applications made it through without the required check? Estimates run in the tens of thousands.
“When questioned by investigators, Wilde looked ‘bewildered, and stated: I had a login issue and never followed up,’ the investigative report says.”
“The integrity of our department’s licensing program is our highest priority,” Aaron Keller, a department spokesman, told reporters. “As soon as we learned that one employee failed to review applicants’ non-criminal disqualifying information, we immediately terminated the employee, thoroughly reviewed every application potentially impacted, and implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again.”
Reached for comment, Putnam told HuffPost that 365 applications were flagged for additional scrutiny after Wilde’s conduct was discovered.
“To be clear, a criminal background investigation was completed on every single application,” State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said. “Upon discovery of this former employee’s negligence in not conducting the further review required on 365 applications, we immediately completed full background checks on those 365 applications, which resulted in 291 revocations. The former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again.”
Those numbers reflect the flip side of this story. The system works well, when it is used, and few try to thwart the system. Applicants didn’t know that they would have avoided background checks. Out of the tens-of-thousands, less than 300 were revoked.
Yet the news that the system failed will undoubtedly serve as ammunition for those who want to end licensed concealed carry and curtail the rights of law abiding citizens.