Last Updated: January 18, 2022
The Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) conducted a record number of firearm background checks during the first quarter of 2021—427,450 background checks were conducted between January 1 through March 31, compared to 304,876 during the first quarter of 2020. This marks an impressive 40.2% increase in only one year.
Background checks have been a common practice across all US states for years now. They are usually done as a part of the job application process, lease applications, and when buying firearms. However, they aren’t required universally—many vendors still offer firearms to anyone willing to buy them, no questions asked.
The topic of firearm purchase has attracted heated debates and discussions, as many people and activists are fighting for universal background checks before any gun purchase. The reason? Research has indicated that an increased rate of background checks may be the right step towards reducing the violence rate.
What the Numbers Say
According to the PICS’ first-quarter report, 6,444 people (1.5%) were denied their gun purchase due to their background check. 1,325 of them were referred to law enforcement agencies, and 52 were arrested on a warrant at the point of purchase.
Compared to other US states, Pennsylvania has a decent track record for background checks. According to Statista, it ranks 7th in the country by the number of background checks done in 2020, following Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, Florida, and California. We estimate that Pennsylvania’s rank might increase by the end of 2021 if they keep breaking background check records.
What Does This Jump Mean?
This development wasn’t sudden or unexpected. The reports from the previous two quarters set consecutive records for background checks, meaning that more and more background checks are conducted in Pennsylvania, and the trend will probably continue.
Even though the increased number of checks can be predicted, what can’t currently be explained is the reason for the increase. Are more people buying guns overall, or are more people opting for licensed sellers that require background checks? Currently, we don’t have the data to come up with a satisfying answer to these questions.
Regardless, a rising number of background checks is a step in the right direction and a good indication that we’re approaching better gun regulation.