State Police Announces Quarterly Firearms Purchase Denial Investigations

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HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania State Police recently announced that the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) record-breaking volume streak ended the second quarter of 2021. The previous three quarters experienced an unprecedented volume. The department also released the number of firearms purchase denials, subsequent investigations, and arrests resulting from such investigations for the period of April 1 through June 30, 2021.

Established in 1998, PICS is used by county sheriffs, chiefs of police of cities of the first class, and licensed firearms dealers in Pennsylvania to determine an individual’s legal ability to acquire a license to carry firearms or obtain a firearm through a purchase or transfer. In the second quarter of 2021, PICS completed 334,108 background checks.

Statistics for the second quarter of 2020 are included for comparison.

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Second Quarter PICS Statistics 2020 2021
Total number of PICS checks conducted 314,319 334,108
     Number of persons denied 5,801 6,548
Total number of denials referred to law enforcement agencies 1,238 1,286
     Referred to Pennsylvania State Police 342 293
     Referred to Local Law Enforcement 878 962
     Referred to ATF 18 31
Number of individuals arrested for a warrant at point of purchase 83 37
The previous records for PICS activity were 427,450 background checks, set in the first quarter of 2021; 420,581 background checks, set in the fourth quarter of 2020; and 406,151 background checks, set in the third quarter of 2020.

In Pennsylvania, a person commits a felony of the third degree if they make a false oral or written statement on any federal or state agency form or willfully presents false identification that is likely to deceive a firearm seller, licensed dealer, or licensed manufacturer. When an individual provides false information on a state and/or federal form, an investigation is initiated, and an investigation referral is sent to the corresponding law enforcement agency. Individuals may also be identified as having an active warrant for their arrest during the background check process.

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