State didn't run mental health checks on concealed weapon permit applicants for more than 1 year

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A report with the Office of Inspector General found that the state of Florida failed to run mental health background checks for concealed weapon permit applicants for more than a year.

The reported negligence affected running background checks for what the state calls non-criminal disqualifying conditions, meaning background checks into issues including whether people have been committed to mental institutions.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said a former employee’s negligence potentially affected 365 applicants and among those, 291 permits were revoked after the negligence was discovered and the background checks were properly completed.

It all had to do with an employee not being able to log into a system called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS.

The report found that although the employee reported the problem, she never followed through on having it fixed.

The investigation found from around February of 2016 until around March of 2017, the state was not running those mental health background checks.

The state said it did still run criminal background checks during that time.

The commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Adam Putnam, is also a candidate for governor running as a Republican in Florida.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said: “To be clear, a criminal background investigation was completed on every single application. 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.”

"It's important for people to make the distinction between law abiding citizens and in Florida there are millions of them who have concealed weapons licenses who undergo extra background checks, who provide fingerprints to get that concealed weapons license and separate that from sick individuals,” Putnam said during the April interview.

A concealed weapon license does not mean someone can automatically buy a gun.

Those people still have to undergo a background check with FDLE at the time of purchase.