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Computer problems hinder checks on licenses for concealed weapons

State law requires checking records for people under domestic violence injunctions.

Despite a law passed two years ago, Florida isn't regularly checking the records of 243,000 people with licenses to carry concealed weapons to make sure they aren't under domestic violence injunctions.

Computer problems have prevented the regular checks, according to a recent audit.

"It's very disturbing," said state Rep. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, who fought to get the law passed in 1998.

Under that law, people who are under final court orders to keep away from family members because of violence are supposed to be barred from holding or getting a concealed weapons license.

Two-thirds of domestic violence deaths are caused by firearms. Federal law has prohibited firearms possession in such cases since 1994, but state and local police agencies are powerless to enforce that statute.

The state auditor general reported that the Florida Department of State and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have not developed a computer system to share information about domestic violence injunctions and concealed weapons permits.

The State Department issues and oversees the permits, while FDLE keeps information about injunctions. The State Department said it's trying to work out the problem, but the two agencies have different computer formats.

The differences, however, do not prevent the state from screening first-time applications for permits, said Marilyn Thompson, assistant director in the Department of State's Division of Licensing.

Also, some people notified the state about their spouses' injunctions and the weapons permits then were suspended. About 30 permits were denied last year due to domestic violence injunctions.