PA in crosshairs over firearm background check delays

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I’ve always been fascinated by how we still have so-called “point of contact” states here in the US. The point of contact states have to do with when the NICS provisions of the Brady (aka Handgun Control Inc) Bill came into effect. States were able to maintain systems they may have had in place and or use their own systems to act as a liaison between the FBI and a respective FFL. In 2022, these types of systems are antiquated, redundant, and create more work, as well as issues. Of the 12 point of contact states, Pennsylvania is one of the surprising ones on the list, along with Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia. We expect states like Hawaii, California, New Jersey, etc. to be overly control freakish on this topic, but Pennsylvania? A state founded explicitly with freedom in mind?

Because Pennsylvania has such a system in place, they’re responsible for the background checks that are done for firearm sales. The extra steps involved, including extra bureaucracy, are a recipe for disaster, especially in the crazed COVID-19 days we just suffered through. A recent release by  Firearms Owners Against Crime Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action (FOAC-ILLEA) discusses a lawsuit targeting Pennsylvania over delays in background checks.

As a result of substantial delays in the processing of background checks for the purchase/transfer of firearms and for licenses to carry firearms, Firearms Owners Against Crime Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action (FOAC-ILLEA) secured the services of Chief Counsel Joshua Prince Esq and attorney Dillon Harris Esq of Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., and filed suit against the Pennsylvania State Police (Docket Number 281 MD 2022).
The Pennsylvania State Police directly infringes upon and often delays, due to PSP Commissioner Evanchick’s practices and policies, the Rights of law-abiding Pennsylvanians and business owners by forcing citizens to submit to the antiquated and cumbersome Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) so that they can gain permission from the government to exercise their most basic Constitutional Rights; to be armed and to bear arms.
Any time a constitutional right can be put in the balance where politics and further government intervention is involved, infringement is bound to happen. When the public was sold the NICS system, the “I” often gets neglected. In the decades since passing we kind of forget this fact. The “instant” element needs to be brought back into focus and any of these point of contact states, bad acting, or working under incompetence/inability to act, need to abolish their practices and join the rest of the country in how background checks are done.
As set-forth in the lawsuit, PSP Commissioner Evanchick has instituted a practice, in direct defiance of the General Assembly’s mandate. Our general counsel, Josh Prince, has been quoted:

As set-forth in the lawsuit, PSP Commissioner Evanchick has instituted a practice, in direct defiance of the General Assembly’s mandate, that purposely understaffs the PSP’s Instant Check Unit by only employing two PSP officers and a number of civilians (less than 90) as operators for conducting almost 1.5 million background checks per year, resulting in delays, as admitted by the PSP on its own website, that typically exceed 7 hours, and in some occasions, exceed 34 hours, even though the statutes require the background check system to be “instantaneous.” As a result of Commissioner Evanchick’s practice, numerous individuals have been disenfranchised of their statutory and constitutional rights under the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions and therefore, we are seeking not only declaratory relief that Commissioner Evanchick’s practice is unlawful, but additionally an injunction requiring the PSP to comply with the General Assembly’s mandate that the background check system be instantaneous.

FOAC-ILLEA President, Kim Stolfer, says; we have been tracking and interacting with the legislature since 1998. The futility of decades of lobbying has ended up leaving us ‘no choice’ but to file this legal action! If we are interested in solving this problem and restoring system integrity then we simply cannot rely on the bureaucratic leadership of the Pennsylvania State Police and must seek the intervention of the courts.
The FOAC-ILLEA is right to bring up this suit. Looking at all the dynamics that exist when discussing Brady (Handgun Control Inc) Act checks, the only ones that make any sense at all are the ones that involve current concealed carry permit holders in certain states not needing to submit to a check when purchasing a firearm. Extra steps and extra checks within checks would fit the definition of what an “infringement” is, in my opinion. Since we’re just discussing the matter of these point of contact systems creating delays, we won’t even dive into the constitutionality of the NICS system as a whole. In a post-Heller world, it’s going to be tough to defend this kind of shenanigans.
Regardless of what one’s opinion on the topic is, none of us can dispute that delaying a right is denying it, and further, we were really sold some snake oil when we were told the instant checks would be instant. Instant unless your state gets involved and messes it up with inefficient government. We’ll be following the progress of this case and will report back with any updates. In the meantime, let’s hope the citizens of Pennsylvania get some relief in the form of these delays subsiding, and that the threat of this suit will help move things along.