Record number of instant background checks in Pa. in third quarter

“It’s not unusual to see upticks in PICS activity around election years.”

  • Julia Agos

(Harrisburg) – State Police troopers have completed a record-number of instant background checks for gun purchases or license to carry permits applications in the third quarter, between July 1 and September 30.

Some 406,151 checks were completed in the last three months – up from 225,000 over the same quarter in 2019, according to statistics from the State Police.

Established in 1998, the Pennsylvania Instant Check System – or PICS – works with federal and state databases to flag anyone with a felony or mental health concerns.

The previous record was set at 369,807 in the first quarter of 2013.

State Police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said the spike started in March when the coronavirus pandemic began and continued through the summer as protests and civil unrest grew around the county.

“It’s not unusual to see upticks in PICS activity around election years, anytime the public thinks that firearm laws and regulations might be changing soon they might stock up,” Tarkowski said.

The system denied licenses to 6,950 applicants, 93 of whom were arrested after an outstanding warrant was flagged.

“We are very proud of the Pennsylvania Instant Check system here at the Pennsylvania State Police,” he says. “We surpassed the million background check mark for the year this quarter. And all systems are a go.”

Firearms dealers have reported selling out of many guns and have had trouble keeping ammunition in stock.

Earlier this week, Philadelphia police reported a 40 percent increase in gun deaths over last year’s highest-in-more-than-a-decade tally.

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