The Lead

Pa. sees record-setting number of firearm background checks

By: - April 6, 2021 5:18 pm

Firearm background checks have set a record high for the third consecutive quarter, state law enforcement officials said Tuesday. 

In the first quarter of 2021, law enforcement officials across Pennsylvania completed a record-setting 427,450 background checks, according to Pennsylvania State Police data. 

The previous record of 420,581 was reported in the fourth quarter of 2020. 

Data from the state police’s Firearms Division, which oversees Pennsylvania’s Instant Check System, show an increase of more than 120,000 checks conducted from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021.

The sharp increase in firearm background checks in Pennsylvania during the first quarter of 2021 follows national trends for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which show that the first three weeks of 2021 ranked among the top 10 highest weeks for NICS checks since 1998, the Washington Post reported in February. 

More than 3.1 million national background checks were conducted from January 4-24, according to NICS data. 

Pennsylvania’s firearm background checks system, known as PICS, were created more than two decades ago to determine an individual’s eligibility for obtaining and licenses to carry firearms in the commonwealth. 

PICS checks are conducted by top law enforcement officials such as county sheriffs and chiefs of police as well as licensed firearms dealers across Pennsylvania. 

In 2019, there were 2,740 active licensed firearm dealers in Pennsylvania, according to the state police’s 2019 Firearms Annual Report.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.