Anti-gun groups argue that a scandal recently brought to light in the Sunshine State points to an underlying issue with the concept of national concealed carry reciprocity.
Last week news broke that the Florida Department of Agriculture failed to follow-up on 365 flagged concealed carry permit applications over a yearlong period due to an employee’s problem logging into a federal background check database. While an investigation called for by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam led to the revocation of 291 permits over non-criminal records found in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and safeguards have been put in place to avoid future instances, gun control advocates say it highlights a bigger issue when it comes to recognizing carry permits across multiple jurisdictions.
“No state should be forced to accept another state’s concealed carry standards, let alone honor the permits of a state that cannot or has not reliably administered its permit program,” said Moms Demand Action in a statement. “But that’s the entire function of ‘concealed carry reciprocity.’”
According to Putnam’s department, Florida’s 1.9 million permits are honored to one degree or another in 36 other states across the country. Under pending national reciprocity legislation in Congress, this would be expanded to all states, a concept supported by nearly 300 Republicans on Capitol Hill, President Trump, the attorneys general of 24 states and a variety of Second Amendment organizations.
Putnam argued that every permit holder — even those later revoked following the investigation last year — cleared two other fingerprint-based criminal databases and only amounted to a small portion of the more than 300,000 permits issued during the time period. Currently running as a strong contender for the Republican nomination for governor, Putnam’s political opponents are stepping up efforts to derail his candidacy over the matter.
Among prominent Florida Democrats, a number of state and federal lawmakers are calling for further investigations into the incident along with Putnam’s resignation from his current office. Those running as Democrats in the upcoming gubernatorial primary such as former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum are likewise echoing the call, joined by vocal members of Parkland school shooting survivor groups. This comes as recent polling among Republican voters in the state shows Putnam as the leader in the GOP side of the race for the Governor’s Mansion, edging out Congressman Ron DeSantis, who is endorsed by President Trump.