As Floridians prepared to celebrate the 4th of July this week, news broke of yet another egregious break in protocol within Adam Putnam’s Department of Agriculture.
Tuesday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that an internal investigation indicated that as of 2012, nearly 50 staffers had made thousands of mistakes while reviewing applications for concealed weapons permits and armed security guard or similar licenses. The investigation culminated in the resignation of one employee, firing of another and issuance of suspensions or written reprimands to additional employees, as well as the revocation of two concealed weapons permits and one armed security guard license.
This isn’t the first indication that Putnam’s office has mismanaged the application process for concealed weapons permits. Earlier this month, reports surfaced that the department failed to review federal background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits. In the end, the office was forced to revoke hundreds of concealed weapons permits that were issued to people with potentially dangerous histories during this time period.
In nearly every other state, law enforcement or criminal justice agencies are responsible for issuing concealed handgun permits. That was the case in Florida, too, until the NRA got involved. Prior to 2002, the Division of Licensing, which manages the concealed weapons permit process, was housed in the Department of State. Lawmakers in Tallahassee moved the program to the Department of Agriculture following lobbying from the NRA, which wanted the program to be managed by an elected official.
This week’s reporting offers further proof that the Department of Agriculture – as overseen by Putnam – has systematically mismanaged the concealed weapons permitting system. It’s clear that the system should be managed by a law enforcement agency with the expertise to oversee it properly and that Adam Putnam should resign for putting the safety of Floridians at risk.