A Pennsylvania House committee quietly pulled a bill that would, if passed, weaken the state’s background check system (PICS) for firearm purchases, but the fight isn’t over.
“We do consider this a victory, but I don’t view it as dead and gone,” said Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA. The gun violence prevention organization was one of several to oppose the bill.
In Pennsylvania, state police run both state and national background checks. While the bill’s author, Rep. Tim Krieger, R-Westmoreland, calls the state version redundant, it includes records for juvenile crimes and protection from abuse orders not required by its federal counterpart. In addition, a state police employee does a manual check if a buyer is flagged for any reason. The national database, meanwhile, is fully automated.
Krieger also said the bill was inspired by poor customer service and long waits for background checks to clear. State police responded by citing a 2012 study that found ninety-six percent of gun dealers contacted were satisfied with PICS. Seventy percent of checks take fewer than four minutes. Of the calls requiring an operator, ninety-two percent were completed in fewer than ten minutes.