Some of the laws referenced on this page were enacted in 2016 and may not yet be in effect. 

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.

In 2016, New Mexico enacted a law requiring the reporting of mental health information to NICS. Under the law, the administrative office of the courts must electronically transmit information about a court order, judgment or verdict to the FBI for entry into NICS regarding each person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution2 and is therefore prohibited under federal law from receiving or possessing a firearm or ammunition.3

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

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

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). ⤴︎
  2. The terms “adjudicated as a mental defective” and “committed to a mental institution” have the same meaning as those terms are defined in federal regulations at 27 C.F.R. Section 478.11. ⤴︎
  3. 2016 NM H 336. ⤴︎