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Explanation of Fees Charged by PSP Regarding the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS)
All fees charged by the Pennsylvania State Police associated with the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) process are set by law and remain unchanged since the system's inception in 1998. They are as follows:
The fee for a PICS check for a firearm purchase or transfer is $2.00. This fee applies to the actual PICS check conducted by a licensed dealer during a transaction, regardless of how many firearms are purchased or transferred at that time and is authorized in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(b)(3), which reads in part "[t]he requester shall be charged a fee equivalent to the cost of providing the service but not to exceed $2.00 per buyer or transferee". Note: this is the only fee required when completing the required check for the private sale or transfer of a firearm.
In addition, there is a $3.00 surcharge added to a PICS check on the purchase of a "firearm subject to tax". This is authorized in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.2(a), and applies only to a firearm purchased from a licensed dealer. The surcharge applies to each individual firearm purchased in a transaction.
Example: If during the same transaction an individual purchases 3 firearms from a licensed dealer, they are required by statute to pay a $2.00 fee for the PICS check plus $9.00 in firearm surcharges ($3.00 per firearm), for a total of $11.00 in fees payable to the Pennsylvania State Police.
Please note: Some licensed dealers may charge their owns fees associated with a PICS check. There is no prohibition on dealers charging their own fees, but this money does not go to Pennsylvania State Police.
License to Carry a Firearm
While the total fee for a License to Carry a Firearm is $19.00 and payable to the Sheriff, only $1.00 of this is sent to the Pennsylvania State Police. This is authorized in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(h)(3), which states that "[a]n additional fee of $1.00 shall be paid by the applicant for a license to carry a firearm and shall be remitted by the sheriff to the Firearms License Validation System Account, which is hereby established as a special restricted receipt account within the General Fund of the State Treasury. The account shall be used for purposes [relating to the Firearms License Validation System]. Moneys credited to the account and any investment income accrued are hereby appropriated on a continuing basis to the Pennsylvania State Police".
License to Carry
COUNTY SHERIFF to apply for or renew a PA license to carry.
License to Sell Firearms
COUNTY SHERIFF to apply for or renew a PA License to Sell Firearms. New dealers must first obtain their Federal Firearms License (FFL) from ATF. Once PSP receives your information from the sheriff’s office, a license will be issued and an information packet will be mailed detailing next steps.
Prohibiting Offenses and Conditions
An individual is ineligible to purchase or possess a firearm in Pennsylvania if they have been convicted of certain crimes or meets one of several conditions.
The Pennsylvania State Police does not offer legal advice. Consult an attorney if you have questions about your eligibility to own or possess a firearm in Pennsylvania. To review your own criminal history, submit a
Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) request online.
Title 18 Offenses for which a conviction prohibits a person from purchasing or possessing a firearm in Pennsylvania:
§908 Prohibited offensive weapons
§911 Corrupt organizations
§912 Possession of weapon on school property
§2503 Voluntary manslaughter
§2504 Involuntary Manslaughter, if reckless use of a firearm
§2702 Aggravated assault
§2703 Assault by prisoner
§2704 Assault by life prisoner
§2716 Weapons of mass destruction
§2902 Unlawful restraint
§2910 Luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure
§3123 Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
§3125 Aggravated indecent assault
§3301 Arson and related offenses
§3302 Causing or risking catastrophe
§3503 Criminal trespass, if a felony of the second degree or higher
§3702 Robbery of motor vehicle
§3921 Theft by unlawful taking or disposition, upon conviction of the second felony offense
§3923 Theft by extortion, when the offense is accompanied by threats of violence
§3925 Receiving stolen property, upon conviction of the second felony offense
§4906 False reports to law enforcement authorities, if the fictitious report involved the theft of a firearm as provided in 4906(c)(2)
§4912 Impersonating a public servant if impersonating a law enforcement officer
§4952 Intimidation of witnesses or victims
§4953 Retaliation against witness, victim or party
§5122 Weapons or implements for escape
§5515 Prohibiting of paramilitary training
§5516 Facsimile weapons of mass destruction
§6110.1 Possession of firearm by minor
§6301 Corruption of minors
§6302 Sale or lease of weapons and explosives
A conviction for any offense equivalent to any of the offenses above, either under prior laws in Pennsylvania or under any other state or federal law, also makes an individual ineligible to own or possess a firearm.
An individual is also prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm if he or she:
- Is a fugitive from justice
- Has been convicted of an offense under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act that is punishable by imprisonment exceeding two years
- Has three or more convictions for driving under the influence within a five-year period (depending on the grade of the offense, certain DUI offenses could be prohibiting under Federal law upon the first conviction)
- Was ever adjudicated as incompetent or involuntarily committed for mental health treatment under §302, §303, or §304 of the Mental Health Procedures Act
- Is a non-US citizen who is in the United States unlawfully
- Is the subject of an active protection from abuse order that requires the relinquishment of firearms or meets the federal criteria under 18 USC §922(g)(9)
- Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- Has been convicted of failing to relinquish firearms pursuant to a protection from abuse order (this prohibition will terminate 5 years after the date of conviction, final release from confinement or final release from supervision, whichever is later)
- Was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile*
- Is otherwise federally prohibited from firearm ownership (see 18 USC §922(g))
*Firearm prohibitions based on juvenile adjudications for
certain offenses expire after 15 years or upon the person reaching the age of 30. Consult an attorney for more information.
Pennsylvania Instant Check System Challenge Form
If you believe your purchase/transfer of a firearm was denied in error, download and complete the
Pennsylvania Instant Check System Challenge form. Be sure to read the entire form, follow all instructions, and return it within 30 days of the denial.
The Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Division launched the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) in 1998. PICS is used by firearms dealers to verify who can legally buy a firearm. Most background checks are completed in a matter of minutes.
If a purchase is denied by PICS or the system returns an undetermined result, the dealer will inform the applicant of their right to challenge. PSP will respond in writing within 5 business days of receipt of a valid challenge form. Challengers are encouraged to provide additional information for the purpose of review. Information regarding dispositions on old arrest records, etc. may be helpful in the challenge process. Within 60 days of receipt of a valid challenge, a final decision will be provided to the challenger.
Information for Medical Marijuana Cardholders
A holder of a valid PA Medical Marijuana Card can possess approved forms of marijuana. Possession of marijuana remains a violation of federal law.
According to the U.S. DOJ, possession of a valid Medical Marijuana Card and/or the use of medical marijuana makes you an
"unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance"
who is prohibited by federal law from the purchase or acquisition, possession, or control of a firearm, according to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.32(a)(3).
Open Letter to all Federal Firearms Licensees dated Sept. 21, 2011, states in part:
"[t]herefore, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."
The mere possession of a Medical Marijuana Card will give rise to an inference that you are an "unlawful user of or addicted to" a controlled substance, according to 27 C.F.R. § 478.11.
Therefore, it is also unlawful for you to apply for, possess, or renew a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearm (LTC) because you are:
"[a]n individual who is prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm under the statutes of the United States." (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Chapter 18, Section 6109(e)(1)(xiv).
Gun Shows, Auctions, and Raffles
The PSP Firearms Division requests all gun shows, auctions, raffles and sales be reported to the PICS Unit at least 30 days in advance of the event.
The advance notice allows the unit to plan for additional staffing as needed. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 717-705-8843.
Firearm Disposal upon Death of a Firearm Owner
The death of a friend or loved one is a difficult time. Survivors not only have to deal with the emotional loss, but also have to deal with property that might include firearms.
In Pennsylvania, how a deceased person's property is distributed is controlled by the Pennsylvania Probation, Estates and Fiduciaries Code. This can be a complicated and difficult process. For example: is there a will; are the firearms part of a trust; or are they short-barreled or automatic firearms registered with the Federal Government? It is important to speak with an attorney prior to distributing or disposing of any property, including a firearm. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
- A firearm belonging to the deceased individual is personal property. Just like any other item they owned prior to their death, it must be distributed along with the rest of the estate by the estate's Personal Representative (i.e., either the executor or administrator).
- If you are the beneficiary, you may wish to contact an attorney regarding possession of firearms belonging to the estate and the best way for you to obtain possession of them (for example, adhering to proper firearm transfer procedures or dealing with heirs located outside of Pennsylvania).
- You, or the ultimate recipient of any firearm must not be a prohibited person under either 18 U.S.C. § 922 or 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105 from receiving or possessing a firearm.
- If the firearm is unwanted, there are several ways it can be disposed of after taking lawful possession of the firearm. First, you can sell the firearm to a Federal Firearms Licensee (gun dealer). Second, you can contact your local police department to see if they accept unwanted firearms. Third, firearms can always be surrendered at your
local State Police station.
As noted, dealing with estate issues can be complicated process and adding firearms to the mix may make it even more so, consequently consulting with an attorney may make the process easier (and safer) for everyone involved.