Florida skips gun background checks for a year after employee forgets login
In Florida, the site of recent mass shootings such as at the Stoneman Douglas High School and the Pulse nightclub, more than a year went by in which the state approved applications without carrying out background checks. This meant the state was unaware if there was a cause to refuse a licence to allow somebody to carry a hidden gun – for example, mental illness or drug addiction. The reason is dismayingly banal: an employee couldn’t remember her login.
The login is for the FBI’s background check database, or National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The database was created in 1993 by the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. States and firearm retailers can use it to check on the criminal and mental health history of those who want to buy a firearm, including their histories in other states.
The database flags applicants who’ve served more than one year in prison, have been convicted of drug use in the past year, are undocumented immigrants, were involuntarily committed or deemed to have a “mental defect” by a court, or who were dishonorably discharged from the military. As the Tampa Bay Times reported on Friday, a previously unreported investigation from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the employee in charge of the background checks was rubberstamping applications without checking applicants’ backgrounds.