Universal firearms background checks called for by Obama already law for handguns in Pennsylvania

Unlike its neighbor New Jersey, Pennsylvania is not known as a home for strict guns laws.  But there is one area where the Keystone State is ahead of many: background checks.   

President Obama is calling for every gun-buyer to undergo a background check.  

Here’s how that works in Pennsylvania for handguns (universal background checks don’t apply to long guns such as rifles and shotguns).

People buying pistols from private individuals must go to a firearms dealer for a background check before a legal transfer can occur.

“It is similar to when you are buying a vehicle and you have to go to PennDOT for example or another means to properly transfer that title,” said Trooper Adam Reed of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Reed says the firearms dealer can access the instant background check system to make sure the buyer is eligible to own a gun in Pennsylvania.

“The person on the receiving end of the firearm who is going to purchase it would fill out the same paperwork as if they were purchasing it from the dealer themselves,” he said. “The dealer would act as a broker to check with our instant check system to verify that you are eligible to purchase that firearm.”

Reed says the system is the same when purchasing a handgun at a gun show.

This is a corrected story.  An earlier version of this story erred in its description of which gun purchases are subject to background checks.

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