Lott criticizes state background check system at Pennsylvania gun rally

05/25/17 5:36 AM | by

Popular pro-gun economist and author Dr. John Lott dumped on Pennsylvania’s background check system during a rally Monday at the state capitol.

During his nine-minute speech at the Make the Second Amendment Great Again rally, Lott praised law enforcement, challenged gun free zones and griped about the failures of the Pennsylvania Instant Criminal Check System, which costs state police about $7 million to operate each year.

“We know policing works,” Lott said Monday. “Why have police spend their time doing something that can’t solve one single crime?”

It’s a job gun rights advocates in Pennsylvania argue the FBI could do, as it does for 37 other states, and it would thwart just as many sales to criminals. Denials through both systems show near identical rates of just over 1 percent, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Two new legislative proposals — Senate Bill 224 and House Bill 763 — introduced in the General Assembly earlier this year would dissolve the state’s “duplicative, incompetent” background check system for good, though neither has seen any legislative action over the last two months.

PICS was implemented in 1998 as a replacement for the state’s mandatory five-day waiting period, costing the Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Division $120 million to maintain over the last two decades.

State police estimate 60 percent of the checks processed through PICS are completed within minutes, but some can take more than two weeks. Meanwhile, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System operates on the three-day default-to-proceed rule.

Similar bills to replace PICS with the federal version have been introduced over the last three legislative sessions, though none have been successful.

Lott said Monday the system repeatedly proves itself to be “costly and doesn’t really produce any benefit.”

“We know if we let police do traditional policing, lives could be saved, crimes could be deterred by having … police spending their time and effort using resources to have them do what we know works,” he said.

Lott founded the Crime Prevention Research Center and is a favorite among gun rights groups for his research linking lower crime rates to concealed carry laws. Gun control advocates pan his expertise and remain critical of his research methodology.

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