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Butterworth: No time limit for pawnshop gun data

(ran NP edition of METRO & STATE)

State Attorney General Bob Butterworth said Wednesday that Florida law does not put a 48-hour limit on gun records in a state database of pawnshop transactions.

Butterworth said that when the Legislature set aside money for the database, it didn't intend to treat firearms differently from jewelry or televisions.

The ruling goes against a new Florida Department of Law Enforcement policy of deleting gun records from the database after 48 hours. FDLE spokesman Al Dennis said the department would take Butterworth's opinion "under advisement."

The state database is expected to be operational this summer.

While police officials and gun control activists praised the announcement, the National Rifle Association accused Butterworth of trying to establish a statewide gun registry, which is against the law.

"Bob Butterworth loves to weigh in on gun control issues," said Tallahassee NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer. "Once a gun is found out not to be stolen, keeping the information constitutes gun registration and that is what this is all about."

The NRA pushed for the two-day limit on guns. Information on all other property will be kept for up to two years.

FDLE Commissioner Tim Moore has denied that pressure from the NRA was the reason for establishing the 48-hour limit.

Florida law requires that pawnshops report pawned property information to their local law enforcement agencies, many of which keep databases. But there has been no statewide database, making it difficult to trace stolen property to other areas.

With the new Florida database, local law enforcement agencies will voluntarily give the FDLE the information they collect.

Technology chief put on

leave during investigation

TALLAHASSEE _ Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan placed the official in charge of technology in state government on administrative leave Wednesday because of a grand theft investigation.

Roy Cales, 39, who is coordinating a merger of technology and computers across state agencies, is being investigated by the Leon County Sheriff's Office. He is suspected of using a forged letter in 1996 to obtain a $35,000 bank loan on which he later defaulted.

Gov. Jeb Bush, who hired Cales in 1999, was on a trade mission in South America Wednesday, so Brogan acted in his absence.

Cales said in an e-mail to the Associated Press that he could not discuss the matter.

_ Wire reports