State Police Announce Quarterly Firearms Purchase Denial Investigations

State Police

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) announced the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) continues to see a decline during the third quarter of 2021 after record-breaking previous quarters. In addition, PSP released the number of firearms purchase denials, subsequent investigations, and arrests that resulted from investigations for the period of July 1 through September 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 third quarter of 2021, PICS completed 303,156 background checks, which is a decline from the second quarter of 2021 (334,108) and the third quarter of 2020 (406,151).

Previously, PICS activity hit record-setting highs in three consecutive quarters with 427,450 background checks completed during the first quarter of 2021, 420,581 background checks completed in the fourth quarter of 2020, and 406,151 background checks completed in the third quarter of 2020.

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

Third Quarter PICS Statistics 2020 2021
Total number of PICS checks conducted 406,151 303,156
     Number of persons denied 6,950 5,545
Total number of denials referred to law enforcement agencies 1,510 1,465
     Referred to Pennsylvania State Police 450 356
     Referred to Local Law Enforcement 1,032 1,066
     Referred to ATF 28 43
Number of individuals arrested for a warrant at point of purchase 93 34
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 if they willfully present 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. In addition, during the background check process, individuals may be identified as having an active warrant for their arrest.

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