Pennsylvania’s Firearm Background Check System Experiences Record Volume For Third Consecutive Quarter

gunImage by Mike Gunner

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania State Police announced that the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) set a record for activity in the first quarter of 2021. It was the third straight quarter to experience record-breaking volume. The department also released the number of firearms purchase denials, subsequent investigations, and arrests resulting from such investigations for the period of January 1 through March 31, 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 first quarter of 2021, PICS completed 427,450 background checks.

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

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First Quarter PICS Statistics 2020 2021
Total number of PICS checks conducted 304,876 427,450
     Number of persons denied 4,866 6,444
Total number of denials referred to law enforcement agencies 1,226 1,325
     Referred to Pennsylvania State Police 357 296
     Referred to Local Law Enforcement 859 1,001
     Referred to ATF 10 28
Number of individuals arrested for a warrant at point of purchase 59 52

The previous records for PICS activity were 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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