Florida lawmaker wants independent review of concealed carry failure

'Do the right thing,' Stewarts says while standing in front of Pulse memorial


ORLANDO, Fla. – State Sen. Linda Stewart called for an independent investigation into the Florida Department of Agriculture's failure to do national background checks on people applying for concealed weapons permits.

The request by Stewart came after an inspector general's report was sent to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2017. The report found an employee stopped doing checks between February 2016 and March 2017 because she couldn't log into an FBI database.

Stewart held a news conference in front of the Pulse shooting memorial on South Orange Avenue. The memorial is at the site of the former nightclub where on June 12, 2016 49 people were killed and dozens of others were injured by a lone gunman, who legally purchased the firearms used in the attack, according to the FBI.

A spokesman for Putnam said the employee responsible for the problem had been fired and every application that had been potentially impacted had been reviewed.

Stewart said she asked Gov. Rick Scott to appoint Florida's chief inspector general to independently review the handling of concealed-carry permits by the agriculture department.

"Do the right thing," Stewart said. "The people of this state expect their government to operate in a transparent and accountable manor."

Putnam is running for governor and has pushed to make it easier for people to get a concealed weapons permit.  At an event in Orlando on Thursday, he addressed the backlash from Stewart and other political groups.

"It's become an extension of the Florida Democratic Party's governor's race," Putnam said.  "It's not legitimate. It's trying to undermine the hard work of our sworn law enforcement officials who are serving Floridians every day."

At Tuesday's news conference in front of the former Pulse nightclub, Stewart responded to Putnam's remarks.

"I am deeply disappointed in (his) statement because nothing could be further from the truth," Stewart said. "This has been and continues to be solely about gun safety and about keeping our citizens safe."
Scott previously said he is considering Stewart's request.

Putnam's office did not issue a response to the press conference.

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