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Rick Scott Must Open Independent Investigation Into Background Check Scandal

Washington, D.C. — The American Democracy Legal Fund today called for Gov. Rick Scott to immediately open an independent investigation following a report in the Tampa Bay Times that the state of Florida approved tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits without performing a rigorous background check, allowing people with dangerous intentions or mental health problems to carry a gun in public.

Prior to The Tampa Bay Times’s report, neither Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam nor Governor Rick Scott had publicly acknowledged this breach of the public trust.

“For more than a year, the state of Florida did not conduct rigorous background checks for concealed weapons permits, putting every single Floridian at risk of harm by dangerous criminals or the mentally ill. How many lives have been hurt by this blatant disregard for the safety of Floridians? This egregious lapse requires an immediate and fully independent investigation to follow the facts and assign responsibility,” said ADLF’s Brad Woodhouse.

While Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services failed to conduct background checks using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the number of applicants for concealed carry permits increased dramatically: 134,000 requests in the fiscal year ending in June 2015; 245,000 applications in 2016, and 275,000 in 2017.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is an essential law enforcement database that “ensures applicants who want to carry a gun do not have a disqualifying history in other states.” For over a year, the state of Florida did not use the database, instead approving applicants for concealed carry permits without full information.