I first came across this story in a Facebook Group stating what actually happened versus what most news outlets were reporting. Many of them said that Florida did not run background checks on concealed carry applicants for over a year, from February 2016 to March 2017, which is not exactly correct.
When applying for a Florida concealed weapon license, each applicant submits their fingerprints which the Florida Department of Agriculture uses to check against the Florida Crime Information Center database (FCIC), National Crime Information Center database (NCIC) and National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for disqualifying offenses.
The Florida Department of Agriculture completed all three of these background checks from February 2016 to March 2017.
An employee whose responsibility was to review the 365 applicants who did not pass the NICS background check was unable to log into her account. She then waited 40 days before reporting that she had a login problem but never followed up on the issue.
After an internal investigation, the Florida Department of Agriculture re-ran the 365 applicants through a new NICS background check. They cleared 74 of the 365, and 291 still had disqualifiers, so they immediately suspended their concealed carry licenses.
It is also worth noting that even though the 291 disqualifiers initially received a concealed carry license, they would have been unable to purchase a firearm through a licensed dealer. Having a Florida Concealed Weapon License does not allow you to bypass the background checks dealers run when purchasing a gun. So the purchase would have been flagged during the NICS background check, and they would have been unable to buy a gun.
While this was most definitely an issue that should never happen, we wanted to make all the facts about what actually happened clear. Most news outlets either focused on the one background check making it sound as if there were no background checks performed on roughly 350,000 applicants during that time and that just isn’t true.
The Florida State of Agriculture also added a page to their website stating the facts:
Setting the Record Straight: Tampa Bay Times Report on Concealed Weapon License Background Checks
Recent media reports have erroneously reported information regarding the Concealed Weapon License program and one employee’s failure to perform her job duties for a period of time. The facts of the situation are below.
- FACT: A criminal background investigation was completed on every single one of the 349,923 concealed weapon license application submitted from February 2016 to March 2017.
- FACT: All applicants for a Florida concealed weapon license submit fingerprints that are checked against the Florida Crime Information Center database (FCIC), National Crime Information Center database (NCIC) and National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for disqualifying offenses.
- FACT: It was the responsibility of this employee to review the 365 applications that did not pass the NICS system and the Inspector General’s investigation determined she failed to do her job.
- FACT: Upon discovery of this former employee’s negligence in March of 2017, the department immediately launched an audit of the 365 applications she failed to review.
- FACT: When the department completed the full background checks with information from the NICS system on the 365 applications she failed to review, 291 licenses were ultimately revoked.
- FACT: While the Office of Inspector General’s investigation was ongoing, the department adopted safeguards into the application review process to ensure this never happens again.
- FACT: A concealed weapon license does not authorize the purchase of a firearm. Anyone seeking to purchase a gun must undergo a background check performed by FDLE at the time of purchase.