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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 5, 2016 01:08 PM
From: Senator Camera Bartolotta
To: All Senate members
Subject: Elimination of PA Instant Check System (PICS) & Use of National Instant Check System (NICS)
In the near future, I will reintroduce legislation to eliminate the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), the firearm background check system used by the Pennsylvania State Police to conduct instant background checks on prospective firearm purchasers, in favor of the National Instant Check System (NICS). This legislation was Senate Bill 725 of last session and co-sponsors included Senators Scarnati, Aument, Yudichak, Vogel, Stefano, Wagner, White, Hutchinson, Yaw, Ward, Brewster, Alloway and Reschenthaler.

Each state is free to determine the extent of its involvement with NICS and 36 states use NICS exclusively to conduct background checks on their behalf. Thirteen states, including Pennsylvania, duplicate the NICS process with an additional system of their own. PICS was created as a result of the 1995 Pennsylvania Special Session on Crime and duplicates NICS to conduct background checks.

In addition to being unnecessary, PICS is also expensive. While it was envisioned to be fiscally self-sufficient at the time it went online in 1998, a 2011 report from the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) found that two thirds of PICS's revenue comes from the General Fund to sustain its annual budget of over $6 million - 95% of which covers personnel costs. I believe this money, as well as the fees used to sustain PICS, can be put to better use than supporting a duplicative firearm background check system of limited value.

Eliminating PICS will also streamline the administrative burdens faced by Federally Licensed Firearms (FFL) dealers surrounding the sale and purchase of firearms, while at the same time, maintaining public safety.

This legislation will save the state millions of dollars while at the same time ensuring continued public safety with respect to gun purchases through the national system which most states now utilize. For these reasons, I ask you to join me in co-sponsoring this bill.

Introduced as SB224