See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
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.
When a Minnesota court: 1) commits a person under state law as being mentally ill, developmentally disabled, mentally ill and dangerous, or chemically dependent; 2) determines in a criminal case that a person is incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental illness; or 3) restores a person’s ability to possess a firearm under state law, the court must ensure that this information is electronically transmitted within three business days to NICS.2
When a court commits a patient to a treatment program or facility other than a state-operated program or facility, the court shall report the commitment to the Commissioner through the supreme court information system for purposes of providing commitment information for firearm background checks.3
The Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services receives a copy of any commitment order through the state’s supreme court information system whenever a patient is committed to a state-operated mental health facility, or to a treatment program or facility other than a state-operated program or facility. The Commissioner must provide commitment information to local law enforcement agencies by means of electronic data transfer through the Minnesota Crime Information System when individually requested for the sole purpose of facilitating a background check for purchasers of handguns or assault weapons.4 A person seeking a transferee permit to purchase a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon must authorize the release of mental health information for this purpose.5
Minnesota passed a law in 2013 requiring courts to electronically enter into the NICS database information on all persons civilly committed during the period from January 1, 1994, to September 28, 2010, that had not already been entered in the system.6 The information provided must include civil commitment orders and orders restoring firearms eligibility.7
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). ⤴︎
- Minn. Stat. § 253B.24. ⤴︎
- Minn. Stat. § 253B.09, subd. 3a. ⤴︎
- Minn. Stat. § 245.041. ⤴︎
- Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 1(3). See also Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 1(3) for a seller’s duty to report to law enforcement the release of mental health information by a prospective purchaser of a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon. ⤴︎
- 2013 Minn. S.B. 671, Section 10. ⤴︎
- Id. ⤴︎