Pennsylvania Background Checks Generate A Lot of False Positives

denied 4473 gun purchase social media check

courtesy wikipedia.org

Pennsylvania, like most states, had a lot of firearm sales in March. The state performed over 300,000 background checks in the first quarter — over 8300 on March 20 alone — which was enough to briefly crash the state’s online system.

The Keystone State also had 4,866 denials during the quarter. No doubt victim disarmers will pat themselves on the back, pleased that thousands of dangerous criminals were prevented from going out and committing “gun violence.” Not so fast.

Only 1,226 of those were referred to law enforcement; 25% of the denials. The other 75% — 3,640 — were not referred. That implies that 3,640 people were improperly denied their Second Amendment rights. If they were actually prohibited persons, they should have been referred to law enforcement. If they weren’t prohibited, the state should not have violated their rights.

But the victim disarmers will see this as back-patable, too. I do not.

If Pennsylvanians are going to be saddled with preemptively-prove-your-innocence, presumed guilt background checks on an enumerated right, at least make sure the system works more than a quarter of the time.

comments

  1. avatar Otto Lode says:

    getting a denial is crushing if you’re a law abiding citizen and there is still no good concise information online about dealing with a wrongful denial some stories claiming it may take years to remedy but I got my proceed in 9 days and had a valid UPIN number in 60 days from my denial. I think goobermint uses denials to discourage honest people from buying guns

    1. avatar Scott says:

      I have only been delayed once during one of those rushed times after a school shooting, but I have a very distinctive name and don’t need a SSN. In my experience Carl Smith can get you delayed or denied because there are lots of Carl Smiths with records while Eberhard Hamilton O’Malley with a clean record will more than likely pass with flying colors every time.

      1. avatar Huntmaster says:

        Are you kidding, that guys a time bomb!

      2. avatar NJ2AZ says:

        i was thinking the same thing. I’m fortunate to not be named John Williams or something.

      3. avatar Don from CT says:

        My grandfather had the same name as his scumbag cousin who lived in the nexts town.

        He was denied on firearms purchases a couple of times and once was even proned out during a traffic stop because of a warrant on his cousin.

        Good times.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Systems are only ad good as the info that is in them.

      Garbage in, Garbage out.

      1. avatar frank speal says:

        had my name run through routine “firearms query” some years back…had at least two that I didn’t own on there…and some that I did not on there…some much for the “registration.”..that’s not a registration…pales in comparison to the inaccuracies of the ATF registery though…

        1. avatar Totmacher says:

          What registry are you talking about? Buying a firearm and having a NICS check, as thus article is about, dosen’t link your name to a gun in any government system.

        2. avatar Wiregrass says:

          Pennsylvania doesn’t use the NICS system, they have their own system called PICS, which when you buy a handgun includes a nice little card with the Serial No. of your gun sent to the State Police.

        3. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          In PA the NICs is run by the Pennsylvania State Police PICS system, which also runs a state level check and if the purchase is for a handgun it adds it and you in the “purchase database” which cannot be a registry because it is against PA law to have a registry and it is incomplete but which the cops refer to as a registry and use as a registry.

          And aside from that HOLY SMOKES!! I’m stunned and amazed that no one from PA has ever EVER mentioned any of this before in the comments section of this esteemed and august website.
          Surely there is some commenter from PA who is aware of all this and has explained it before?

          OK, now that that is out of my system, let me provide some clarification.

          If you are denied on a background check for a firearm purchase in PA you have 30 days to send in your appeal form to the state police. Then you will go through the appeal process and will either discover that you are in fact prohibited or that you are in fact not.

          If you DO NOT send in your appeal form then state police will call you to come down to the barracks to chat with officer friendly who will help you get this cleared up. What that means in Engrish is that you will be arrested, fingerprinted, booked, and charged with lying on a government form, twice if it was for a handgun because PA has an additional form for handguns. Then you will get a call from a kindly prosecutor who will likewise advise you that he/she (You never can tell these days. Our top state medical person is a he/she) is going to help you clear this all up. All you have to do is sign this little document and you will be free with no jail time. That document is a plea deal and you will be pleading guilty to a federal felony (and a state one as well if it was a handgun) and you will really and truly be a prohibited person at that point only salvageable by a gubernatorial pardon.

          If you do not send in your appeal form and/or lose your appeal and wish to fight the matter rather than plead out then be prepared to spend a lot of money on lawyers and a lot of time in court.

          This all started in 2014 after the PSP got sick of us saying “If there are all these denials then where are the prosecutions?” So they started prosecuting. What this has revealed is that the vast majority of prohibited persons trying to buy guns in PA gun shops are people with some minor infraction or minor issue in their distant past who have no clue they prohibited and really shouldn’t be. Oddly enough there are not a lot fo murderers or career criminals trying to buy guns in guns shops. There are a lot of people with 302 mental health evals or marijuana arrests as teenagers who do not know that that little run in with john law at 16 is going to get them jacked up at 36 when they are a church going family man with an otherwise clean record.

        4. avatar rosignol says:

          Would you perchance be interested in purchasing a bridge? Very reasonable financing is available.

    3. avatar Thixotropic says:

      There was a time, 25 years ago, when I was not approved and had to wait the 72 hours all the time. A person with my name was doing or had done some bad stuff and the NICS was not approving my transfers.

      In 1995, I got my first CHL. NO problem since.

      The FBI and the Federal NICS system is racist and does not work.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        I do question the question about race on the form. Mixed race individuals have to choose one or the other. I wonder what they are doing with THAT data.
        I think there should be a box marked Old Fat White Guy just to make it easier for them. That way they won’t have to cross reference your weight , your age, your race and your height to determine you are a short little fat old guy buying his 45th gun.

        Fits those stereotypes easier.

    4. avatar frank speal says:

      probably…dealers now have appeal forms readily available..implying there often needed…

  2. avatar Wayne says:

    In Kentucky, no back ground check if you lay your CDW on the counter. You fill out the 4473, pay and walk out with your purchase. Kentucky is also a constitutional carry state, but there will be a back ground check unless you have the CDW. My local indoor range is open, limit of 8 people in the store, but open. My outdoor range is also open.

    1. avatar Scott says:

      Ditto in West Virginia except they get skittish near the borders accepting CDWs as a few FFLs have been burned by people moving out of state and not turning in their permit..

      1. avatar Truckman says:

        In Florida,CCP your lets you buy your handgun have a quick check that you have to pay for but once paperwork done you walk out the door we have a lot of law enforcement that gets permits so they can buy this easy otherwise they would have to wait 3 days to get the gun

    2. avatar Wiregrass says:

      Well when you’re really only interested in building a de facto gun registry, which is what the PICS system is, that Kentucky CCW approach just won’t fly.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        The idea is once PA can get preemption overturned they can then go to the books and start sending out letters.

        Then raids.

        PA has the largest registry of guns in the country. Goes back to the 20’s from what i’ve heard. So it’s largely incomplete and inaccurate.Not that that will hamper them.

  3. avatar Heywood says:

    Isn’t an incorrect rejection a false negative.

    1. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

      Positive in this case means you are a prohibited person…so it is a false positive.
      Like with COVID19… a false positive means you don’t have the virus..even though the test says you do…so you would be treated as if you DO have the virus

  4. avatar Scott says:

    For current PA Governor (and gun grabber) Tom Wolf false positives resulting in a denial is a feature not a bug. He also hasn’t heard of a highway toll he doesn’t want to raise repeatedly.

    Full disclosure: I am not a Pennsylvania resident, but have to go through PA a lot.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      “For current PA Governor (and gun grabber) Tom Wolf ”

      Yet another petty tyrant that needs to be flush down the petty tyrant toilet of fecal matter by his bosses The People of Penn.

      1. avatar Moodock says:

        We tried today to get a message to him. His response was to punish us further for daring to exercise our first amendment rights.

        1. avatar C. Fomunda says:

          that gigantic bellend turned off the governor’s phones and redirected all calls to the PA Dept of Health. Which is run, of course, by a literal mental patient.

      2. avatar Scott says:

        I have no idea what they were thinking although his base is likely in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and urbanized eastern PA and not much of the rural part in between. I have lived within ten miles of a PA border most of my life in multiple locations and have PA friends and relatives, but have yet to fully understand Pennsylvania politics. This also includes just why they have an extra level of government (Townships) that commands an extra set of taxes to support it.

        1. avatar GS650G says:

          8 or 10 counties in PA determine who the Gov is. He won all of them. The state is a vast sea of red in between the two big cities.

          James Carville once described PA this way: You got Philly and Pittsburgh and in between Alabama.

          The 5 counties around Philly used to be a tossup at least. Now they have been thoroughly invaded by the left. Lancaster county is next in line to be a solid democrat block, that should make it impossible for another R to ever win.

    2. avatar frank speal says:

      yeah,..he’s pretty stingy with the booze too…those ridiculous and ever-rising tolls are the result of some of the money being siphoned off to pay for public transit in hellholes like Philadelphia…..

      1. avatar frank speal says:

        “graft and corruption…nobody does it better”….should be on all PA license plates!….has any state sent more politicos to prison?…including two AG’s….

        1. avatar southof16 says:

          Dude, have you even heard of Illinois? We’re way better at this than PA.

      2. avatar GS650G says:

        Rendell wanted to toll I80 to pay for SEPTA in philly. Then it came out they had a 80 mil surplus. He was just trying to buy off the unions and curry favor. The turnpike union was for tolling i80 until they found out it was all going to be electronic with zero jobs. Then they opposed it.

        The surplus called into question where the money was supposed to go and the plan to allow residents along the road free travel through license plate reading didn’t play well with the fed DOT.
        He wanted PA to be like Jersey and MD with toll roads all over. The democrats luv tolling roads and bridges, it’s a nice slush fund.

        1. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

          Well I guess the good part the PA turn pike is now totally human free. If you don’t have a EZ Pass they just send you a bill now. Still a crap road filled with pot holes.

        2. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

          And gasoline, hard liquor are more expensive than Maryland. Got to drive 15 miles to refill my liver till Wolf reopens the state stores.

  5. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

    “1,226 of those were referred to law enforcement” – and how many of THOSE were arrested or otherwise charged?
    I’ll bet literally a handful…
    Apply the laws already on the books…

    1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

      I really wish to God people would stop saying “Enforce the laws on the books” That’s how we got into this mess. That’s how we get people with a 302 as a teenager who cleaned up their act and went on to become a productive member of society going to buy a gun having no clue they are prohibited and wind up having to fight a federal and state felony. We got that that PSP taking us up on enforcing the damn laws that are on the damn books.

  6. avatar GS650G says:

    Many people are denied simply because they didn t know they were dropped on the list because of old charges that were supposed to be dropped. Mistaken identity is supposed to be prevented with SSN unless identity theft has taken place.
    I was delayed because my phone number changed. Or at least that is what I surmised after having the same number for 17 years . I changed it, went gun shopping a month later and was delayed.
    I haven’t been delayed since.

    1. avatar LazrBeam says:

      I don’t recall a phone number being a requirement on a 4473. The LGS’s that I frequent like to have it in case they need to contact me later. But, even then, I pen the number on the back of the 4473 NOT in a required block. In Bama we used to be able to use our CCW, get the firearm, and depart. BUT, a few knuckleheaded sheriffs issued to some people who were not eligible so the ATF called foul. So, a few effup’s ruined it for everybody else.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        Conjecture on my part. Having lived for 20 years in the same house and same job it was the only “change” tht could have caused a pause in the process. They won’t tell you why your right to bear your new arm is being held up because they are the Overlords but if it keeps one person out of millions disarmed for a day they consider themselves worth it.

  7. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Private sales in states that aren’t regulated. Don’t live in one? I am truly sorry for your luck.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Oregon used to be.
      Still is among friends.
      But the bluetards got their way, so it’s off to a gun store to do useless paperwork for everybody else.

  8. avatar Knobbytire says:

    I recall reading an article that there are several states that do their own background checks, but only Pennsylvania, Oregon and Virginia investigate 100% of denials. Will Pennsylvania be able to continue to investigate all these denials

    1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

      They don’t investigate unless you appeal. If you don’t send in the appeal form then they presume you are guilty and prosecute. And yes, they will follow that procedure with every damn one. Because it gets PSP an easy arrest and it usually gets a prosecutor an easy conviction via plea bargain because most people simply can’t afford the fight. They get another notch in the “bad guy stopped by background check column” even though it wasn’t a bad guy in the way we would think of the term, and the supposed bad guy, a most likely innocent citizen, is now undoubtedly prohibited for life. So it’s a win all around for jack booted thugs.

      1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

        Should be DON’T APPEAL. Damn typos

  9. avatar enuf says:

    Never been denied, and never put down my Social Security Number either.

    Since getting the concealed weapon permit, I just don’t get run anyway, so that ended that.

    The law should be that every denial requires a police response with the expectation of them clearing up an error. The response should be automatic, going to the 911 dispatch center for where the gun shop is located. The information behind the denial should be instantly available, and instantly correctable on the spot.

    With all of it paid for by the general fund, not the individual lawful gun buyer.

    1. avatar Huntmaster says:

      This^. If a prohibited person is trying to buy that should generate an immediate response. It only makes sense.

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      And helicopters dropping agents down all around the store. MRAPs moving in within 10 minutes.

  10. avatar Mad Max says:

    Usually when I get a PICS check, it’s instantaneous.

    I think I’m on the PA State Police’s preferred customer list. I certianly give them enough business.

    One day, I’ll have more guns than PA has State Troopers.

    1. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

      Only time I had trouble with the Pennsylvania system was in Gardner Mountain, and had to make several corrections. My local LGS barely blinks a eye at me when I come in to conduct a check on a new purchase.

  11. avatar Levi says:

    My buddy was one of them. It took 15 business days aka 3 weeks for pics to tell him he wasn’t cleared. He then filed an appeal and was ultimately cleared. 4.5 weeks after trying to buy a shotgun. A right delayed is a right denied. He’s still furious.

    1. avatar In for a penny, In for a pound says:

      I would have went and bought him his gun. I would have taught him that 2nd Amendment doesn’t require government permission, and a government that tries to turn rights into privileges, is who rifles are meant to defend Liberty from. Conservatives and their subservince to corrupt authority are more dangerous than the liberals. Eventually, the liberals will make it legal to use the 2nd Amendment on them and their enforcers, whereas the conservatives prefer wealth over Liberty, and belive in government privieleges, not natural rights. The conservative appeasers are much worse as they support a corrupt government’s unconstitutional laws, because doing the right thing could impact their future earnings.

  12. avatar Jr says:

    I don’t understand, is the point of this entire article assuming that if denials were not turned over to law enforcement it means they were false positives? That seems like a weird assumption . Perhaps someone could elaborate.

    1. avatar that one guy says:

      lots of people tested positive for Prohibited Person and were denied the right to buy arms.

      only a quarter of those people were referred to the police for further investigation.

      this suggests that the other 75% of those positives were not worthy of investigation / not actually prohibited

      therefore, those positives were likely false (also likely that many of the 25% that were investigated ended up being false, too)

      it’s illegal to try to buy a gun as a prohibited person. either law enforcement is not interested in pursuing pretty blatant and easily proved illegal activity (a falsified 4473 is damning evidence), or they feel it probably wasn’t actually illegal, or a false positive.

      1. avatar Jr says:

        It was my understanding from previous information acquired here and elsewhere that many denials WERE legitimate and just nobody bothered to prosecute.

        It seems like a huge leap to go from 75% were not referred for prosecution to 75% were false positives

        1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          Starting in 2014 PA state police began prosecuting all denials THAT WERE NOT APPEALED. So the denials who were prosecuted are people who either did not appeal or people whose appeal determined that in PSPs eyes they really were prohibited.

          Also some number of PICS/NICS checks in PA are for the License To Carry Firearms, and I am uncertain if PSP are prosecuting all denials on LTCF applications in the same way they are gun firearm purchases.

  13. avatar Don from CT says:

    The thing that is interesting is that if a background check was run when you got your carry license, the Brady Law actually allows NO check to be completed on purchases after that.

    1. avatar Dave Ripka says:

      since 1989 I have purchased at least 9 hand guns and had a carry license .when it was time to renew I was denied and never followed up around 1992. This year I went to purchase another rifle and was denied. I did not send in my appeal but was contacted later by the State Police stating that I am not allowed to request to purchase another gun or I would be arrested. I called and called the State Police to find out why I could not purchase, I was told by a senior officer that I had a 50 year DUI and that was the reason why. He also said that since I was over 70 years old, I should of automatically be allowed. I am not sure why.

      1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

        You should have sent in the appeal. I am going to guess that your age and/or that they know they would lose is the only reason they did not prosecute.

        A lawyer who handles exclusively gun cases in PA has said that the statutes regarding DUI are s convoluted that he needs the exact disposition and dates of a case and then has to consult 5 different law books to sort it out. PSP doesn’t have the brain power for that. They arrest and prosecute and let the courts sort it out, which for most means a plea deal.

        If you want to clear this up the best choices are Bob Magee, Phil Kline and Josh Prince

        Firm Name: Worth, Magee and Fisher

        Attorney Name: Bob Magee

        Location: Allentown PA 18104

        Phone: 610-674-0505

        FAX: 610-433-3955

        Website: http://www.worthlawoffices.com

        Firm Name: Law Office of Philip G. Kline

        Attorney Name: Phil Kline

        Location: Quakertown PA 18951

        Phone: 215-538-4444

        Firm Name: Prince Law Offices, P.C

        Attorney Name: Joshua Prince, Esq.

        Location: Bechtelsville PA 19505

        Phone: 888-313-0416

        FAX: 610-845-3903

        Website: http://www.FirearmsIndustryConsultingGroup.com

        You can find other options here;
        https://foac-pac.org/PA-Gun-Rights-Attorneys

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