Pa. police see more gun checks, denials than last year

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – More people are trying to buy guns in Pennsylvania this year, and more of them are being denied.

In order to walk into a store like Staudt’s Gun Shop in Harrisburg and walk out with a firearm, you have to fill out a form for the Pennsylvania Instant Check System, or PICS.

Pennsylvania State Police say they’ve processed tens of thousands more of them than this time last year.

Joe Staudt sells a lot of Glock handguns in his shop, the most popular pistol he offers. Gun shops like his ran background checks more than 257,000 times in the third quarter this year, according to PSP figures.

That’s up 50,000 from the same period a year ago.

“It was definitely enough that we noticed it,” Staudt said. He noticed another stat, too: the number of background check denials.

“Even prior to the spike in the background checks, we noticed a difference in denials,” he said.

More than 400 more potential buyers were denied compared to 2015’s third quarter. From July to September this year, more than 3,000 people were turned away by PICS.

The increase in the number of referrals to law enforcement after a denial was almost the same — about 400 — as the increase in denials. Most of those went to PSP or local agencies.

PSP data also show 26 people were arrested at the point of sale for having an outstanding warrant this year. That’s actually a few less than this period last year.

But why the state is seeing increases in checks and denials, state police didn’t want to speculate.

“The numbers do fluctuate on a regular basis, so just because there’s an increase that doesn’t necessarily show a trend,” Cpl. Adam Reed said.

Staudt thinks the bump in background checks is at least partly political; but the jump in denials, he’s speculating a little, too.

“Whether Pennsylvania has decided on their own to take step it up a notch, I don’t know,” he said.

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