On Tuesday, March 15th, a number of progressive PA legislators, and leaders from Gun Violence groups met in Harrisburg to define and refine strategy for making progress in our movement. In addition, Captain Sean McGinley and Major Scott Price were there representing the State Police. Their information concerning PICS, Pennsylvania’s background check system was enlightening. In PA, a gun buyer for everything except for private long gun sales must submit to both NICS and PICS -national and PA background checks. Here are some facts related by the State Police reps:
*Cracking down on Firearms Denials: The PA State Police have used PICS over the last 4 years to become more aggressive in investigating and prosecuting those who try to buy a gun legally and are denied because of background problems. Currently, there are 6 troopers dedicated to investigating illegal firearms purchases. In 2015 alone, there were over 4 thousand investigations, 2,290 convictions and 144 people were arrested at point of sale for active warrants. When the gun rights crowd says ‘enforce existing laws’, we are doing that in PA.
*PICS stronger than FICS: It was related that PICS searches PA drivers license numbers through PennDot and closes loopholes for searching on name alone (NICS) in instances of name changes. PICS is also able to use 10 days to investigate anyone held up from buying, and if after 10 days cannot verify, the decision defaults to denial of the sale. NICS has only 3 days, and as in the case of the Charleston shooter, if the investigation is not complete, the default position is the sale goes through – sometimes with tragic consequences.
*PFA-Protection from Abuse Orders: PICS has 1,500 more PFA’s on record than NICS.
So as you can see, there are some things PA is doing that is very right. We need ALL GUN SALES to go through PICS, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to the PA State Police for their service in keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
Tom Buglio-CCCPGV director