Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.

Delaware requires the Delaware Psychiatric Center and any other hospital for the care and treatment of mentally ill individuals2 to submit to SBI, and to NICS as required by federal law, the name, date of birth and Social Security number of any adult who is involuntarily committed to such facility.3

Another provision of Delaware law requires every person in “responsible charge” of an institution housing persons declared not guilty by reason of insanity, declared incompetent to stand trial for criminal offenses, or involuntarily committed for mental illness, to transmit to the Delaware State Bureau of Identification (SBI) the names, dates of birth and social security numbers of all such adults.4 The institutions must also submit to SBI the names and photographs of such persons who are to be discharged from these institutions.5 This provision of Delaware law also authorizes the same reporting to NICS.6

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Delaware Background Checks section and the section entitled Delaware Prohibited Purchasers Generally.

See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). ⤴︎
  2. For the definition of “mental hospital,” see Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5001(4). ⤴︎
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(13), (14). ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 8509. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎