House Bill 921, which would eliminate Pennsylvania’s state background system for prospective gun buyers, is now on hold until questions about the national system are answered. This follows a massive effort by CeaseFirePA, it supporters and coalition members to stop this bill from moving forward. Read more at Penn Live.
Currently, Pennsylvania relies on both NICS, the national system, and PICS, its state version, to check the backgrounds of potential gun buyers. “The NICS system,” writes Jeff Frantz, “does a broad, nationwide search for the buyer’s criminal history. PICS screens for things like temporary protection from abuse orders that would disqualify a person from buying a gun, but don’t necessarily show up in NICS.”
Rep. Tim Krieger, prime sponsor of HB 921, said he is working with the Pennsylvania State Police to determine whether all of the records PICS checks can be placed into NICS: “‘We’re not going to run it until we figure things out,’” Krieger said. “’This is not – and you can print this in bold letters – to eliminate background checks. It’s to eliminate a redundant system.'”
CeaseFirePA believes the systems are not redundant, but would be open to consider a new bill if and when the State Police are certain that all the records could be shared. But CeaseFirePA pointed out that this could be a lengthy process. CeaseFirePA also explained that “PICS does more than just run the checks. . . . It also alerts state state police when someone illegally tries to buy a gun, and can notify them of a person with outstanding arrest warrants. In both cases, state police tend to be more aggressive about following up with arrests than the feds.”
CeaseFirePA is pleased that the value of PICS is being recognized and that HB 921 did not move forward in the face of such serious questions. Thanks for all your hard work in reaching out and letting our legislators know that we want a strong background check system in PA.