Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam said Wednesday that his agriculture agency found "no flags" in the 291 people who had licenses to carry concealed weapons after his office failed to review background checks on them.
The licenses were later revoked and an employee was fired last year.
"We know that there are no flags on the 291," said Putnam, the elected agriculture commissioner whose agency has issued 1.9 million concealed weapons licenses in Florida. "We have not received information on any of the 291 having been arrested."
He added that if a license holder is arrested in another state, it takes more time for his agency to find out the facts.
Putnam has been forced to defend his agency's actions after the Tampa Bay Times first disclosed the breakdown last Friday. A number of Democratic officeholders have called on Putnam to resign his Cabinet post.
Floridians have no idea who those 291 revoked cases are. The Legislature has exempted names of applicants for concealed weapons from the state public records law.
Putnam met with reporters after a Cabinet meeting and said that any time a person with a concealed weapons license is arrested, his agency is told "on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, depending on the arresting agency."
Asked if he should have disclosed the breakdown when he first learned of it last year, Putnam said: "My focus is on preventing this in the future and on solving the problem."
The Legislature in 2002 gave concealed weapons licensing responsibilities to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at the urging of NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer.
"I am absolutely committed to public safety and managing this program accurately and thoroughly, which is why frankly I'm so disappointed there was a breakdown," Putnam said.