A Republican gubernatorial front runner in Florida is fighting back against claims he allowed hundreds of thousands of concealed-carry licenses to be issued to people with no background checks. FOX's Eben Brown reports:
BULLET POINTS this week turns its attention to the Governor's Race in Florida, a state where the second amendment is politics for sure. It has again become so in the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High earlier this year.
Permits to carry concealed firearms in the Sunshine State (Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License, as it is properly called) are issued by the state's Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. The state bureau is overseen by Commissioner Adam Putnam who also happens to be a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for Governor.
Putnam flouts his NRA membership and his high marks from the organization. Under his tenure, Florida has issued more than one million Concealed Weapon or Firearm Licenses. But now the Tampa Bay Times newspaper alleges negligence, saying for a period of time Putnam's offices didn't bother background checking concealed-carry applicants when issuing those licenses.
"Inaccurate," says Putnam. "Misleading."
The June 8th article notes the supposed negligence was during the same period of time in 2016 as the Pulse Nightclub terrorist attack, and that's when Florida issued more than 350,000 licenses.
BULLET POINTS now examines the matter, with input from Putnam himself.
"I had an employee, who is no longer with me, who sat on 365 applications of the 350,000 that were processed," says Putnam. "And as a result, 291 individuals who should not have had a concealed weapons license got one. We have revoked all of those licenses."
The Tampa Bay Times presented its information as if it uncovered a secret investigation. However, the Times doesn't tell its readers how the issue was found by Putnam.
"My office discovered the problem. I ordered the investigation."
What's more is that the Tampa Bay Times fails to tell readers that a NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) search isn't the only check done on applicants. All applicants for a Florida CWF License have their fingerprints taken and checked against state and federal databases. Those checks never ceased.
Furthermore, these licenses are not even needed to buy firearms, and they don't allow retail purchasers to skip NICS checks at the point of sale. Those NICS checks are performed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A spokesperson for that agency tells BULLET POINTS that they never had problems accessing the NICS system. When asked if anybody made a retail purchase of a firearm in Florida without a NICS check, the spokesperson resoundingly answered, "No!"
The conclusion here is that even if a person was erroneously licensed to carry a concealed firearm, they would have gotten the same background check when they tried to purchase a gun. If the NICS check would have flagged them for the license application, it would have flagged them for the purchase. Now, a CWF license does allow the purchaser to skip the waiting period, which in Florida can be three to five days long. But the NICS check comes first.
As for the Pulse Nightclub gunman, he was already licensed at a higher tier due to his work as a security professional, vetted by the U.S. government to work courthouse security via a contractor. He also passed a NICS check when buying his firearm because he had no actionable record.
"This is a serious incident and I take it seriously," says Putnam. "Which is what makes it so frustrating that the left-wing media is pushing a narrative that is much worse than the truth, even though they know better."
A follow-up by the newspaper, published online June 11th, prints Putnam's defensive comments but not the legal mechanics behind obtaining the Florida license.
"I've demanded a correction," says Putnam.