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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 30, 2022 10:46 AM
From: Representative Darisha K. Parker
To: All House members
Subject: Improving the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS)
In Pennsylvania, every firearm sale that is carried out by a licensed seller must involve a request for a criminal history, juvenile delinquency history and mental health record check of the potential purchaser or transferee. The Pennsylvania State Police’s (PSP) Instant Check System (PICS) searches numerous databases to determine whether or not the potential buyer is legally allowed to own a firearm.
There is currently a dangerous exception in our statute that allows a licensed seller to transfer a firearm to someone without first conducting a proper background check if there is an electronic failure, scheduled computer downtime, or similar event beyond the control of the PSP that lasts for longer than 48 hours.
Further, according to a 2020 Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) report, the current fee and surcharge structure that funds PICS is insufficient and inadequate – between 2018 and 2020, the fee and surcharge funded only 31% of the actual costs of operation. In order to cover the costs of operation, the LBFC reported that these fees and surcharges would need to increase from $5 – the lowest firearm background check fee in the country – to $16.
I will be introducing legislation to address these current shortcomings and improve our background check process to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect our residents. Firstly, my bill would remove the 48-hour limitation that the PSP currently has when the PICS system is unavailable, prohibiting firearm purchases during these times. Additionally, my bill would increase the fee that firearm sellers are required to pay from $2 to $6 and the surcharge that firearm purchasers are required to pay from $3 to $10, to ensure that PICS has a built-in funding mechanism that does not rely so heavily on the PSP’s General Appropriation.
I look forward to your support for this legislation, which will protect our residents from the potential of a person unlawfully obtaining a firearm during PICS outages and ensure that PICS has the money it needs to operate efficiently and provide background checks in a timely manner.

Introduced as HB1357