U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Pennsylvania NICS Record Improvement

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Past Project Period End Date
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $245,000)

The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, P. L. 110-180 ("NIAA"), was initially signed into law by the President on January 8, 2008 (reauthorized by Title VI of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, P.L. 115-141). The NIAA amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 ("the Brady Act") (Pub. L. 103-159), under which the Attorney General established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact the NICS before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person for information on whether the proposed transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The NIAA authorizes grants to be made in a manner consistent with the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP).

Under the 2020 NARIP priority areas, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) will conduct 3 projects: 1) Automation of ATF Form; 2) Overtime Conversion of Records; and 3) Mental Health Batch File Import.

1) Automation of ATF Forms: PCCD will subaward funds to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) to hire a vendor to automate the ATF Form 4473 process. Currently, Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) Dealers are required to complete ATF Form 4473 for all firearms transactions and retain completed forms for at least 20 years. Pennsylvania FFLs who use the electronic services system to conduct background checks required for these transactions, can complete the state required forms electronically. Automating Form 4473 would allow Pennsylvania FFL’s to establish a “One-Time Entry” integration tool to complete all required forms and records for firearms transactions conducted in Pennsylvania. The enhancement will reduce errors and improve legibility of information on these forms, which ultimately would directly impact timeliness and availability of relevant records for NICS/PICS firearm background check determinations.

2) Overtime Conversion of Records: PCCD will subaward funds to PSP staff to convert paper record of sales of firearms for electronic submission. The Record of Sale form is required for all handgun sales in Pennsylvania. The Record of Sale forms are submitted to the PSP Firearms Administrative Section who is then required to input the information. Currently, there is a 12-month backlog of Record of Sale forms that require electronic submission into state record management systems which directly impacts timeliness and availability of relevant records for NICS/PICS firearm background check determinations. The backlog reduction will expedite the entry of records into state databases which promotes and ensures the most accurate data available in NICS.

3) Mental Health Batch File Import: PCCD will subaward funds to PSP to hire a vendor to electronically batch file import mental health records to PSP-PICS. Since 2013, Pennsylvania has contributed over 900,000 disqualifying mental health records to the NICS Indices. The records are sent to PSP-PICS from the county mental health agencies and courts. Many of these county mental health records are sent individually via fax, email, or US mail and require PSP staff to manually enter the records into the appropriate state record management system for final submission to the NICS Indices. The batch file import of mental health records project will allow counties to upload their mental health data more quickly and efficiently to improve the firearms background check process. The project will reduce the current time delay of mental health record entry into NICS and improve record accessibility on a state and national level. If a county selected the batch file import option, the data would be uploaded to the database without the need for data entry by PSP staff.


Date Created: November 2, 2020