Laura Gallagher, Chief of License Issuance, Division of Licensing (DOL) Interview Date: April 4, 2017
Gallagher stated that she reviews the NICS correspondence from concealed weapon license (CWL) applicants requesting information on the reasons applications have been rejected. Gallagher advised that during a conversation, she told Brandee Jones (B. Jones), Regulatory Program Administrator, DOL, she had not seen any NICS denial correspondence recently, which was unusual.
Gallagher advised that B. Jones contacted Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to make an inquiry regarding the NICS appeals and was told that they had not received any since September 2016, which prompted her to speak with Ford.
So Gallagher ran it up the chain to her supervisor, Mikah Ford. The report continues:
Mikah Ford, Chief of Licensing Support Services, Division of Licensing (DOL)
Interview Date: April 3, 2017
Ford advised that Gallagher and B. Jones alerted her on Thursday, March 30, 2017, that they had not been receiving the NICS reports. Ford stated that she checked the DOL database and discovered that the last time a NICS report had been saved was February 26, 2016. Ford advised that she was Wilde’s direct supervisor, and stated that she (Wilde) has been responsible for the NICS since approximately July 2013, and questioned her about the NICS reports.
According to Ford, when she questioned Wilde about the NICS reports, she looked bewildered, and stated: I had a login issue and never followed up.
Wilde tries to deflect responsibility in her interview with the Tampa Bay Times, claiming that “the department was ‘overwhelmed’ by the high number of applications and that she was pressured to approve them quickly.” But during the investigation, Wilde mostly took responsibility for being a huge lazy slacker who failed to do a ridiculously important job, and even made a mild effort to shield James from her screwup.
In reference to the NICS, Wilde stated “it has to do with criminal histories, it’s very important.” Wilde advised that no one ever told her that the NICS function was no longer her responsibility, and stated, “I should have been doing it,” and indicated it had been a very long time since she had accessed the data base.
Wilde advised that it was approximately February 2016 since she last accessed NICS, and explained that she and James had a login issue and they were unable to access the database. Wilde advised she never asked James to check the NICS after the login issue, and stated that James probably assumed the login issues were fixed and she (Wilde) was exporting the NICS files.
Wilde advised that she forgot about accessing the NICS database after the first month in her current position. Wilde stated, “I dropped the ball—I know I did that, I should have been doing it and I didn’t.” Wilde stated that she did not tell anyone that the NICS data base had not been accessed for over a year.
Wilde advised that she did not believe she performed her NICS duties in an effective or efficient manner. Wilde stated, “I neglected to do it for almost a year.” Wilde characterized her failure […] as negligent, and agreed this could cause an embarrassment to the agency.
Investigators concluded that Wilde was, indeed, negligent, and according to a department spokesman, she was terminated.
The report never became public, though, until more than a year later, when the Tampa Bay Times requested it through the Freedom of Information Act.
It’s important to note that in Florida, the Department of Agriculture covers gun licensing, for reasons that don’t make sense to most. Gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam—the controversial self-proclaimed “NRA Sellout” who was recently the target of Parkland survivor David Hogg’s Publix die-in designed to critique the grocer’s longtime financial support—heads up that corrupt entity, and has been quick to tout how he’s made it easier than ever to get yourself a gun in the Sunshine State.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has made it a priority to streamline the system for requesting concealed weapons permits since he was elected in 2010. In 2012, he held a news conference to tout the state’s one millionth concealed weapons permit, noting the time it took to process an application fell from 12 weeks to 35 days on his watch. There are now 1.8 million concealed weapon permit holders in Florida.
Now running for Florida governor as a Republican, Putnam’s campaign touts his expansion of concealed carry permits as one of his top accomplishments.
Criticism of Putnam was swift. Democrats didn’t hesitate to call for his head, starting with one of his opponents in the governor’s race.
Florida State Sen. Linda Stewart called for the background check responsibility to be taken from Putnam and returned to law enforcement.
In a statement to the Orlando Sentinel, Stewart pointed out some seriously suspicious legislation Putnam tried to push through earlier in 2018, and her suspicions about his motivation.
Stewart accus(ed) Putnam’s office of misleading her regarding a bill backed by Putnam during the legislative session earlier this year.
Putnam pressed legislators for a change in the law to allow concealed carry permits to be approved with incomplete background checks. That push was halted after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
In a media release, Stewart says Putnam’s representatives “downplayed the motives, insisting that it was more of a housekeeping move, and not a big deal.”
She also alleged that the bill was an attempt by Putnam “to conceal the lax oversight by pushing legislation to cover up that failure, and downplaying the real reasons for the bill.”
“These are the kinds of tricks that cannot be tolerated,” said Stewart. “Lives were put in jeopardy by their attempts to conceal what had actually happened. And remain in danger now because of their ineptitude.”
That’s right: Putnam tried to make background checks permanently optional, in effect, and called it “housekeeping.”
The one and only Gabby Giffords jumped in as well.
The founder of Moms Demand Action was quick to point out the far-reaching implications of a year of negligence in one of the only states that hands out CWLs like candy.
Seriously. This reciprocity impacts a TON of Americans, in 36 states.
Floridians mark their primary ballots in late August, so hopefully it only gets worse for Putnam from here. It’s literally the only ray of hope that exists in this terrible story.
Even David Hogg, that ridiculously eloquent man, could only find a single word to describe the news.