Florida Skipped Background Checks For Concealed Gun Permits For A Year. Is That Bad?
Working with computers can be a real pain in the ass. Like, say you've been writing on the same blasted blogging software and all of a sudden they go and switch to a new platform, and it just leaves you a trifle discombobulated for most of the first couple days. We have to confess, though, we wouldn't have thought to try what some geniuses in Florida's state government came up with: when they couldn't log into a big federal government computer system, they just ignored that system and went on with their work, because they're Florida. Problem is, the system was the FBI's instant background check for firearms purchases, and their work was issuing permits for concealed carry permits, which just happened to become extremely popular during the year the office was ignoring the FBI system, so the office issued tens of thousands of concealed carry permits without background checks.
What could possibly go wrong?
As the Tampa Bay Times reports in a story that's sure to become a plot point in a future Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey novel, that little oopsie was actually investigated last year by the Inspector General for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which handles such things, but the resulting report, with a release date of June 5, 2017, had never been reported on in the media. Must have been one of those Friday Night Never Even Mentioned By Anyone things.
For some reason, an employee who was supposed to be checking the background check system couldn't log in back in February of 2016, and just never bothered bringing it to anyone's attention. Instead, the office just kept issuing concealed carry permits without the checks, at least until another employee finally noticed, over a year later, in March 2017.
Gee, that was pretty quick turnaround on that IG report, wasn't it? Funny how we're only learning about it a year later. Oh, yes, and as the Times reports:
During that time, which coincided with the June 12, 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 50 dead, the state saw an unprecedented spike in applications for concealed weapons permits. There were 134,000 requests for permits in the fiscal year ending in June 2015. The next 12 months broke a record, 245,000 applications, which was topped again in 2017 when the department received 275,000 applications.
So you can look at this a couple ways: if you're a magazine half-full of hollow-point ammo optimist, you can be impressed the office found a way to speed through all the extra volume without letting the lack of one small, mandated-by-law system slow them down. But if you're a nightspot half-empty (because the patrons got shot full of holes) pessimist, you might say there was something a bit reckless going on.
The report was impressively concerned for
public safety the department's reputation, noting the negligent employee had acknowledged that
Concealed weapons licenses "may have been issued to potentially ineligible individuals." [ and that] If it came out they weren't conducted, "this could cause an embarrassment to the agency," the report said.
Heavens. Wouldn't want that. Fortunately, the permit applications were also subject to checks for criminal records in both Florida state and federal criminal databases, but the failure to check the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) meant people with involuntary commitments for mental health and other disqualifying non-criminal events wouldn't get flagged for further review.
The full report has some brilliant dark comedy in it, like the chief of the Florida Bureau of License Issuance realizing there might be a problem because one day it occurred to her it had been a very long time since any disgruntled gun-buyers had appealed a rejection of a concealed carry permit. Like, since September of 2016, long after the login glitch.
Not rejecting any applications is one way to get rave customer satisfaction scores, we suppose. Still, the employee was appropriately sorry about not following up with anyone after her first attempt to fix the login issue, stating in an interview with the IG, "I dropped the ball—I know I did that, I should have been doing it and I didn't." So that should count for something.
But don't worry! The employee was canned, and a spokesperson told the Times the state went back through all the applications from the time, this time actually checking NICS. Out of 365 background checks the fired employee should have referred for further investigation, 291 concealed carry permits ended up getting revoked. Nonetheless, that's nearly 300 people who shouldn't have had guns walking around -- and who had to give up their permits, which we imagine may have resulted in some testy people with concealed weapons.
Oh, hey, and Adam Putnam, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, whose office screwed the pooch for over a year without anyone noticing, is running for governor, partly on the basis of how friendly he is to guns. His campaign ads have bragged about what a great job he's done in expanding concealed carry, including cutting down the wait time for permits to be processed, from 12 weeks to just 25 days. Far be it from us to suggest anyone in the office was encouraged to do a rush job.
A month after the IG report was completed, Putnam took to the Tweeter machine in July 2017 to proudly proclaim himself an "NRA Sellout," because the NRA and its pet public servants are just the BEST:
The liberal media recently called me a sellout to the NRA. I'm a proud #NRASellout! Sign below if you are, too.https://t.co/Uro4UVtIOf
— Adam Putnam (@adamputnam) July 26, 2017
Haw Haw, stupid liberal media! Florida voters just love the NRA, and it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE for anything to change that. Can't see how one little slip in the office Putnam runs should be held against him.
Besides, if you take the most optimistic position of all -- say, that of a gun humper who insists the government has no business checking anyone's background at all, because the Second Amendment means anything goes -- then this is really no big deal. Even if some potentially disturbed people got guns, there's now a whole lot more people out there carrying concealed weapons, ready to start shooting it someone who shouldn't have a gun snaps. Just be sure to arm several thousand more Floridians, to make sure there's an adequate supply.
In conclusion, the Gun is Good, and we would just like to add that the "Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services" isn't where we'd put "firearms permits" if we were designing a state agency. We'd go with some kind of law enforcers, maybe, but that's the sort of attitude you'd expect from liberal gun-haters.
ALSO TOO, hey, you there! We are tired from trying to learn how to use a whole new internet today, so we are going to make this your OPEN THREAD and catch you in the morning, OK? We love you, you are the best, goodbye.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.