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COVID-19: Demand for Guns Crashes State Police Background Check System

Thursday, March 19, 2020 @ 12:03 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

handgun-231696_1280HARRISBURG, Pa. – Major Gary Dance, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Records and Identification, released the following statement on Wednesday regarding the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS).

State Police Issues Statement on Pennsylvania Instant Check System for Firearm Purchases

“Technology challenges and a surge in requests resulted in PICS twice going offline on March 17, 2020. An isolated server issue was responsible for the morning outage from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. The second outage happened between 5:00 and 8:40 p.m., due to a backlog of requests.

“Despite the downtime, PICS completed 4,342 transactions on March 17, compared to 1,359 transactions on the corresponding Tuesday in March 2019. Transactions include background checks for purchases, transfers, evidence returns, and license to carry applications.

“The Pennsylvania State Police is working with its vendor to increase processing power to avoid future backlogs and will adjust staffing as needed to meet demand. Rumors circulating on social media that PICS has been shutdown as part of the commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic are false. PICS is, and will remain, operational.

“We regret any inconvenience yesterday’s downtime caused to licensed firearm dealers and their customers.”

Background

The Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) is used by county sheriffs, chiefs of police of cities of the first class, and licensed firearms dealers in Pennsylvania to determine an individual’s legal ability to acquire a license to carry firearms or obtain a firearm through a purchase or transfer.

Established in 1998, PICS has been called a “model gun background check system” for the United States. PICS completed more than a million firearm background checks in 2018 via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or a web-based platform. Most checks are completed automatically in a matter of minutes.

More information is available on Annual Firearms Report page of psp.pa.gov.


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