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Background Checks? What Background Checks?

Florida has more than a million people lawfully carrying firearms and thousands of new applicants every month. As a result, we were more than a little shocked when an embarrassing revelation regarding the Florida system for conducting carry license background checks was made public.

According to the Inspector General for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (the agency that oversees the concealed weapon license program), a lengthy investigation revealed that the following breaches of protocol occurred:

For more than a year, the state of Florida failed to review national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits, potentially allowing drug addicts or people with a mental illness to carry firearms in public.

A previously unreported Office of Inspector General investigation found that in February 2016 the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using the results from an FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that ensures applicants who want to carry a gun do not have a disqualifying history in other states.

The employee in charge of the background checks could not log into the system, the investigator learned. The problem went unresolved until discovered by another worker in March 2017 — meaning that for more than a year applications got approved without the required background check [emphasis mine].” — Tampa Bay Times

In a CNN interview, Commissioner Adam Putnam stated, “The former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again.” I’m not convinced, and I doubt that many of you are either.

As for the government employee, she told the Tampa Bay Times that her department was overwhelmed and that she was “under pressure to quickly approve applications.” So, instead of asking her supervisors for help, she simply skipped doing the background checks. Hey, I’m sure all of you have the same option at your own jobs.

What is frustrating to people like us is that when it comes to a background check to purchase a firearm or a license carry it, you and I obediently (if grudgingly) follow the rules. We do this knowing full well that such measures do not “keep guns out of of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them,” as we are constantly told.

Legitimate law enforcement agencies who study the problem have long admitted that gang members and other criminals are not affected by background checks. Such prohibited individuals virtually never buy their guns legally anyway; they get them from the black market or have an acquaintance with a clean record make the purchase for them. True, such an act is itself a felony, but despite that fact, it happens frequently.

The harsh reality is that even if so-called universal background checks which are now being proposed were to be implemented, the effect on criminals, gang members or other persons with bad intentions would be minimal. With over 300 million guns in America and plenty of individuals willing to traffic in stolen or illegally purchased firearms, getting a gun will never be a problem for them.

But such increasingly onerous restrictions do affect the rest of us, both in terms of rising costs and (more importantly) intrusions on our freedoms, many of which could occur without due process.

We cannot sit by and let that happen. Stay informed, and stay in the fight.

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