The Pennsylvania state police will be updating their instant check system later in the month. Since the Keystone State bypasses the FBI’s NICS system and instead runs their own state-sponsored jobs program background check operation, that means Pennsy residents won’t be able to buy guns for about 60 hours. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as we – or anyone who’s planned any kind of system change – can tell you, plenty. Even the most seemingly minor upgrade can develop into a major cluster. That 60 hours in Pennsylvania could very well drag on. And on. But what the hell. It’s only people’s constitutional rights that are affected. Right? Enter the bowtied gun rights wunderkind Alan Gottlieb via CCRKBA who’s, well, not happy. At all. His rant after the jump . . .

BELLEVUE, WA – A complete shutdown of the Pennsylvania Instant Check System by the state police for a period of 60 hours later this month for a system upgrade is “inexcusable,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

“Closing down the background check system, and thus suspending all firearms transactions and concealed carry license processing simply allows the Pennsylvania State Police to obstruct the gun rights of law-abiding citizens,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb. “We are not reassured by a promise from the agency that it will expedite this computer system update in order to restore service as soon as possible. Access to the computers for background checks should not be suspended at all.

“Surely,” he continued, “the State Police can find alternate means of processing firearms transactions and permit applications while the upgrade is in progress.”

The system is scheduled for update from 10 p.m. Saturday, May 19 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 22. Gottlieb said this highlights a problem with such systems when there is no backup. Authorities can literally suspend the Second Amendment by turning off a switch or pulling a plug, he observed, and use whatever excuse they want.

“We live in an age when computer upgrades should be accomplished considerably faster,” Gottlieb said. “Locking down such a vital system that is important to so many Pennsylvania residents for 60 hours is not an ‘inconvenience,’ it’s an outrage.”

Keystone State gun owners will hold their 7th annual Second Amendment Liberty rally tomorrow, May 8 on the main steps in the capitol rotunda. This would be a grand opportunity for firearms owners to contact their state legislators, and the governor’s office, to express their dissatisfaction over the PICS problem, he suggested.

“Since the last time this happened in 2007, Pennsylvania gun owners have been pushing for an end to the PICS system,” Gottlieb noted. “It is time to put the State Police out of the background check business, and turn over this important job to the NICS system operated by the FBI. They do their upgrades faster, and they deal with the entire country.”


  1. As an IT guy for a global billion dollar company…If I told our
    mgmt team that we’d be down for 60 hours, I would be out of a job.

      • Yes they do. They very, very much have shareholders, and the most dangerous thing you can ever do is to let yourself forget that you are one of them.

        • Civics 101, You get a vote every two years, for either your congressman or senator. Those are the ones that count. The one we get every four years is meaningless since electors (members of the electoral college) who determine to which candidate your states electoral votes are issued are not themselves “elected” by popular vote. Therefore you have literally zero real say in that one vote every four years that you’re focusing in on. If you want to make a difference vote not only for your federal representative and senator every two years but also vote for your state senator and congressman/assemblyman or equivalent. Hell vote for your city councilman, vote every chance you get, if you pay attention and just read your local paper every few days you’ll be surprised by the number of votes you’ve been missing out on all these years.

    • Just goes to show that the private sector will always be more
      effective and efficient than government. Why we still put up with
      it is beyond me.

      • The government, contrary to rumor, can be *very* efficient when it
        wants to be. Allowing mere riff-raff to buy firearms doesn’t fall
        under that category. If anything, the IT guy will be *encouraged*
        to take as many long lunches and delays as he wants by the anti gun
        higher ups. People can’t buy guns for 90 days due to IT down? Oh,
        what a tragedy…we’ll get right on that..snicker.

      • From the very liberal publication, The Economist, “The dominant
        argument for private prisons is that they will save taxpayers
        money, as for-profit owners have an incentive to seek efficiencies
        bureaucrats overseeing government institutions lack. Anyway, that’s
        the theory. According to the Arizona Republic, the reality is that
        private prisons in the Grand Canyon State so far cost more on a
        per-prisoner basis than do public institutions.”

      • Anyone who’s worked in a private sector company of more than 100 people knows that’s laughable. The distinction isn’t private/public, it’s small/large. Once you get over a certain size, bureaucracy and inefficiency become very difficult to avoid. However, both private and public institutions do manage to avoid it. It just requires the motivation and talent to do it. In a lot of cases, government agencies are purposely provided with neither because of various political agendas.

  2. If the update does “delay” firearms sales, it’d be interesting to
    see what would happen if a store says “Screw it, we’re selling
    anyway.” It would certainly make an interesting court case; it’s a
    plain and simple obstruction of a Constitutional right by the
    government. At the very least, it might bring wider attention to
    the issue, though given how full this country is of easily-led
    sheep, maybe that’s not such a good thing.

    • Do you really think any FFL is going to put his license, his bread and butter, on the line because of a few days delay? From someone living in a state with a ten day waiting period, I think NOT.

      • No, just said it’d be interesting to see. Like wondering what the head of the Bradys would have to say if a violent thug broke into his unarmed house. Unlikely to happen, but fun to think about.

  3. I believe it was a former gov. of PA that once said “If people
    asked their local towns how much they spend simply on getting the
    lawn cut, the people would be appauled” As an IT guy is part of a
    shop with 24hr operations, I cannot even comprehend being down for
    60hrs. While I believe that 60hr shutdown is a joke — imagine if
    DMV was down for that long…or even worse…the systems that
    collects sales tax. What is more ridiculous to me is, the belief
    that their own system is any more effective than the FBI’s NICS
    system. And the fact that the two systems probably do not talk to
    each other, renders both system less effective.

    • You have to question how Pa’s system can check for people who have moved her from ut of state without a link to the national system. If it were otherwise, every felon from every other state would move there because of the easy availability of firearms.

      • Good question Mark. PICS is indeed tied to NICS. PICS exists solely at the pleasure of the Pennsylvania State Police, who use it to generate the ROS data base. ROS is record of sale, and its not illegal, according to the wizards at PSP, because its not a complete database, only a record of the sale.

  4. Better yet, throw out the whole mess. It’s unconstitutional, and
    quite simply, it doesn’t work. Even leaving aside how many time the
    system fails and allows some fool who genuinely has no business
    possessing firearms purchase one anyway, it doesn’t do a darn thing
    to stop criminals who get their guns elsewhere. It only causes a
    pointless hassle for legitimate purchases by honest citizens, and
    worse yet, allows the govt to have a list of exactly who owns what
    (y’all noticed that now the check must include the model and serial
    number of the intended purchase, and if ya change your mind two
    seconds after it comes back approved the dealer is required to run
    it again with the new model and serial number, a fact which I find
    extremely disturbing and clearcut abuse by Big Brother).

  5. As a 25 year resident of the Commonwealth of PA, I am aware of MANY little quirks we have to deal with that most other states don’t. Our Liquor stores are owned and run by the state. But we can’t buy beer at a liquor store, for that you have to go to a beer outlet, and buy it by the case. Oh! You don’t want a whole case of beer? Then you have to go to a bar and buy 6-packs and we are limited to two 6-packs per purchase, or they will send you to a beer outlet. We also have multiple agencies supplying bridge trolls for for bridges based on what region they are located in. Each of these agencies have become little kingdoms where the politically connected can get jobs for their derilect relatives. So I am not surprised to hear that PA has their own background check system that is not integrated with NICS. And I am not surprised to hear it will take 60 or more hours to switch over because I’d bet that the PICS system is staffed with employees that couldn’t handle being a bridge troll. And even with ALL OF THIS, it’s still a better place than the People’s Demokratik Republik of NJ that I escaped from.

    • So if it doesn’t come by the case or six-pack, you can’t buy it? My favorite porter comes in individual bottles…

      • You’d be able to buy it by the bottle if that was the way the brewer offered it for sale. The pain begins when you try to find someplace that has it in stock for you to buy it to begin with. Best of luck.

  6. Since the Keystone State bypasses the FBI’s NICS system and instead runs their own state-sponsored jobs program background check operation, that means Pennsy residents won’t be able to buy guns for about 60 hours. So why does PA have a redundant system if the FBI has NCIS? What is gained?

    • What is gained is a bunch of state jobs that can be filled with cronies of politicians and police big wigs.

  7. How did this Alan M. Gottlieb pass a background check and get a permit to speak? Oh, we don’t have to have a permit to speak … yet. OK, I am removing my tongue from my cheek.

  8. There seems to be a misconception that PA wholly bypasses NICS; this is not true. Rather, a PICS check involves running a NICS check on the applicant, along with checking The Commonwealth’s proprietary database(s) of prohibited persons. That said, every estimate I’ve seen states that the total running cost of the PICS system is in the neighborhood of 100 million dollars, with roughly 7-8 million more in annual administration costs. On top of this, the system was defunded by last years budget, but the Commonwealth Police managed to find the money somewhere to keep it running. Furthermore, PICS has a tendency to go down. A lot. PICS may have an internal server/phone issue, or there may an issue with PennDOT (PICS retrieves SSNs from PennDOT), and the result is that nobody can buy a gun in PA until the issue is resolved. Add to this the issue of reporting prohibited persons to NICS; It isn’t done all the time, if at all. This is because the Commonwealth Police maintain their OWN databases with this information. Keep in mind that this is EXACTLY the sort of bureaucratic “loophole” that Loughner fell through. So why do we have this system? Presumably there was a reason at one point, but at this point the only conceviable reason is so that the Commonwealth Police can continue to maintain their illegal sales/transfer database (by various reckonings this database goes back to 1932 or even further). Thus, one of the bills currently being pushed in PA, House Bill 2127 is aimed at correcting ALL of the problems inherent to the PICS system. It will eliminate several million in useless spending from the budget, it will mandate reporting prohibited persons to NICS, and it will VASTLY improve uptime and speed of background checks for the purchase of firearms. Also note that the NRA doesn’t have anything to do with this bill; It’s primarily FOAC’s (Firearm Owners Against Crime) baby, along with pretty much every other pro-gun bill in the PA legislature. Other current positive bills I’m aware of include: HB 1523: Preemption enhancement (legislates civil standing) HB 2176: Two tier Constitutional Carry HB 1860: Disparity of Force for SYG HB 1668: Transport enhancement (Current firearms transport law is abysmal) HB 935: Parking lot bill including civil immunity for lot owner Note again that, with the possible exception of ILA notices, the NRA is doing nothing to support these bills.

    • Damn! Stole my thunder. On a positive note, HSR47, you are so absolutely correct. We all owe a lot to Rep. Krieger, Rep. Metcalfe, Rep. Saccone, and others who are noteworthy in their efforts to “scrap the crap” and roll back the draconian gun laws put in place by liberals who are in bed with the Philadelphia Caucus (or coalition, or whatever). Without Philadelphia’s strident anti gunners, like Curtis Thomas and Waters, the listed bills would be law by now. I was at the 2nd Amendment Rally, and talked to Krieger, Metcalfe, and Saccone. I smiled and said hello to Thomas, even though I had a chance to strangle the sonofabitch right in the hallway.

  9. 60 HOURS!!! WTF are you kidding me… As a senior IT consultant that is not even an option much less upgrading an in production system!!! Which idiots excepted this??? As Jake pointed out you would be out of a job.. Really despite the being down for the processing, I feel bad for the FFL dealers. They are the ones being forced to take a holiday. Yeah we will be inconvenienced but it isn’t our livelihood at stake. And the 60 hours is if everything runs according to plan, but since this isn’t a COTS system as best as I can tell it could be much longer. Although now that I think about it maybe if it doesn’t come back up at all, they will simply scrap it all together. At some point the FFL guys will scream bloody murder if they can’t get back to business. So maybe a complete melt down would be a good thing.

  10. Are you aware that Title 18 in Pennsylvania already has a provision that clearly states that anyone with a license to carry firearms (PA doesn’t do permits, or CCW’s) may simply show it to a licensed FFL dealer and take the gun home without delay? The Pennsylvania State Police, in direct and clear violation of Title 18’s Firearms Preemption provision have chosen to ignore that section of law, and insist, by executive fiat, on a PICS check for every gun purchase. In truth, while no one in PSP is an elected official, they are one of the most powerful political forces in Pennsylvania. Officially, they answer to the Governor. It would appear that the answer is generally “kiss my ass.” The PSP Commissioner should be fired on the spot. We’ll see if Corbett has the balls to take the PSP on, as he promised repeatedly in his campaign for Governor.


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