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Florida’s Recent Failure to Conduct Federal Background Checks Proves Why the NRA’s Top Priority, “Concealed Carry Reciprocity” Would be a Complete Disaster

June 11, 2018

The unfolding background check failure of Florida gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam’s Department of Agriculture provides new proof that the NRA’s number one federal legislative priority, “concealed carry reciprocity,” would put the safety of our communities at risk.

In case you missed it, the state of Florida, under the watch of Adam Putnam’s Department of Agriculture, failed to complete the “essential duty” of federal background checks for over a year, a period of time where the office processed and issued hundreds of thousands of applications for concealed carry permits. Apparently the failure to complete the checks was due to an employee who could not log in to the background check system — a failure the inspector general found was negligent.

During the period between February 2016 and March 2017, which coincided with the June 12, 2016, shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that left 49 dead and 53 injured, Florida saw a spike in applications for concealed weapons permits. According to the Tampa Bay Times report, “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.” According to Putnam himself, at least 291 people barred from getting a carry permit were issued permits anyway due to the background check failure.

If “concealed carry reciprocity” had been law, the other 49 states would have been effectively unable to stop those people from carrying hidden, loaded guns within their borders.

The impact of Putnam’s negligence cannot be overstated — even one missed record can be tragic, as we saw in the Sutherland Springs and Virginia Tech tragedies. While Putnam now claims the bad permits have been revoked, the issue was not widely known until the Tampa Bay Times broke the story — and the Department of Agriculture hasn’t unveiled any new accountability measures to prevent future errors. If the damage has not been reversed, it’s possible that people with dangerous mental illness and others with dangerous histories would be lawfully carrying hidden, loaded guns in Florida.

Bottom line: No state should be forced to accept another state’s concealed carry standards, let alone honor the permits of a state that cannot or has not reliably administered its permit program. But that’s the entire function of “concealed carry reciprocity.”

The “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” which passed the House of Representatives in December, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A Senate version of the policy (S. 446) has also been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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