GOP's self-described 'NRA sellout' had office ignore background checks


Florida gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam described himself as a 'proud NRA sellout.' Now, a new exposé shows his office failed to run background checks on thousands who applied for concealed permits.

Adam Putnam, Republican candidate for governor of Florida, had his office ignore background checks for gun purchases. Putnam previously described himself as a "a proud NRA sellout."

Putnam currently serves as Florida's Agriculture Commissioner. His office, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is supposed to run national background checks on applicants for concealed weapons permits.

Without those background checks, drug addicts, criminals, or people with severe mental illnesses could be allowed to carry guns in public.


The Tampa Bay Times reports that for over a year, Putnam's office allowed such licenses to be approved without using the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

An investigation from the Florida Office of Inspector General showed that an employee could not log into the system starting in February of 2016 and the problem was not resolved until March of 2017.

The Times notes that the delays from Putnam's office coincide with the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub where 50 people were killed, sparking "an unprecedented spike in applications for concealed weapons permits."

There were 245,000 requests for permits from 2015-16 and in 2017 there were 275,000 applications.

That means many permits for concealed permits were approved in Florida, despite those applications bypassing the background check system.

In his ads touting his gubernatorial campaign, Putnam boasts that he has been "expanding concealed carry."

After news of the serious safety lapse emerged, Democratic candidates running for governor slammed Putnam.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said in a statement, "His department's failure to conduct background checks is a dereliction of Putnam's duties, and he should consider whether he is able to continue running for Governor or serving as Commissioner of Agriculture."

Gwen Graham said, "Drop out now, Adam."

Chris King added, "Adam Putnam should resign"

Putnam's ties to the gun industry recently prompted a protest by teenage survivors of the Parkland school shooting. The supermarket chain Publix donated to Putnam, prompting a "die-in" at Publix stores by the teenagers.

Soon after, the company said it had suspended its corporate-funded political contributions.

The NRA's brand of gun extremism is running into headwinds in Florida, and Putnam is quickly becoming an example of what happens to politicians who so closely associate themselves with the group.