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Politics & Government

Bill Would Eliminate State Background Checks For Gun Purchases, Would Rely on National System

In 2013, there were 1.1 million firearm-related background checks conducted in Pennsylvania.

Now, state Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R- Washington/Greene) has introduced legislation that would eliminate that background check.

Currently, firearm customers need to register for the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) and the National Instant Check System (NICS) before they can purchase a gun. If Bartolotta’s bill passes, Pennsylvania will join the 36 states that solely rely on the national system.

She called PICS a redundant step that setbacks taxpayers as well as gun sales.

“People actually have to pay a fee to sign up and to have that background check when the national one is free,” Bartolotta said. “Also, the system is costing the tax payers about $6 million a year.”

According to a 2011 report by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, about two-thirds of PICS’ revenue comes from the state’s general fund.

“Eliminating this system will eliminate duplicity,” Bartolotta said. “It’s going to save millions of dollars in taxpayer money. Plus, the big problem with the PIC system is that it crashes and it’s incredibly slow. There have been so many lost sales because the system isn’t working properly.”

Bartolotta’s legislation would also require state police to report crimes to the national system to prevent those with criminal records from purchasing a firearm in another state.

“That person now can cross the border into West Virginia, Ohio or any other place and try to purchase a firearm and not have their Pennsylvania records show, which, with this system the way it is right now, that’s exactly what would happen,” Bartolotta said.

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