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Florida Could Issue Gun Permits with Incomplete Background Checks

The Florida Dept. of Agriculture says less than 1 percent of all gun-purchase applicants are denied a license because a background check could not prove they were eligible. (Pixabay)
The Florida Dept. of Agriculture says less than 1 percent of all gun-purchase applicants are denied a license because a background check could not prove they were eligible. (Pixabay)
February 5, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers are considering a proposal that would let people buy guns without having a completed background check.

Buried near the end of 114-page bill by Sen. Kelly Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, is a provision that would give the Department of Agriculture 90 days after receiving a concealed-weapons application to issue a permit, even if the department has not acquired proof of restoration of the person's civil and firearm rights.

Taylor Houston, communications director at the LGBTQ advocacy group Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, called the change absurd.

"It's ironic that they would potentially not be allowing convicted felons who have served their time, you know, restricting their right to vote,” Houston said; “but also at the same time, giving access to the same convicted felons to carry loaded, hidden weapons in public."

The provision in Senate Bill 740 was requested by Florida's Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor, Adam Putnam. It's also receiving praise by pro-gun groups as it appears to be advancing to final passage.

After a license is issued, the bill says it would be immediately suspended if disqualifying information is found later. Houston said he's stunned that lawmakers voting for the bill are willing to bypass overwhelming evidence.

"We know that background checks save lives; actually more than 2 million people have been blocked from purchasing a gun after failing federal background checks since 1998,” he said. “So, background checks are an absolutely essential piece at solving the gun-violence epidemic."

Putnam's office said the provision would apply only to those applications that would otherwise be suspended because full documentation is not available. A House version of the bill is awaiting a floor vote, where it is also expected to pass.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL