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 2009, Oregon enacted a law requiring the Oregon Department of Human Services, the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board and the Oregon Judicial Department to provide the Department of State Police (“DSP”) with the minimum information necessary to identify persons who:

  • Have been committed by a court to the Oregon Health Authority or Department of Human Services based on a finding that the person is dangerous to self or others;
  • Are subject to a court order finding the person mentally ill and prohibiting the person from purchasing or possessing a firearm;
  • Have been found by a court to lack fitness to proceed during a criminal trial as a result of mental disease or defect;
  • Have been found “guilty except for insanity” of criminal conduct;
  • Have been found “responsible except for insanity” for an act under the Juvenile Code;
  • Have been placed under the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board or the Oregon Health Authority under certain provisions of Oregon law; or
  • Have been committed to a state hospital or facility under certain provisions of Oregon law.2

Upon receipt of this information, DSP must “access and maintain the information and transmit the information to the federal government as required under federal law.”3 The agencies listed above must enter into agreements describing the access to this information.4 DSP must adopt rules describing the type of information to be transmitted and the method and manner of maintaining this information and transmitting this information to the federal government.5

Oregon law specifically exempts information about these mental commitments from privacy rules so that the court is required to transmit the minimum information necessary, as defined above, to DSP for the individuals described above to enable DSP to “maintain the information and transmit the information to the federal government as required under federal law.”6

In Oregon, if a court finds that there is a reasonable likelihood that a mentally ill person would constitute a danger to himself or herself or others or to the community at large as a result of the person’s mental or psychological state, the court must order that the person be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.7 In such cases, Oregon requires courts to report such individuals to the sheriff of the county, who is required to enter the information into the Oregon Law Enforcement Data System.8

Oregon allows the persons listed above to petition for restoration of their eligibility to possess firearms under federal and state law, and provides for the reporting of individuals whose eligibility has been restored.9

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Oregon Background Checks section and the section entitled Oregon 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. Or. Rev. Stat. § 181.740. ⤴︎
  3. Or. Rev. Stat. § 181.740. ⤴︎
  4. Or. Rev. Stat. § 181.740. ⤴︎
  5. Or. Rev. Stat. § 181.740. “Minimum information necessary” means data elements or nominal information that is necessary or required under federal law to accurately identify the person and includes the person’s name, date of birth, gender and reference information that identifies the originating agency or court and enables the originating agency or court to locate an underlying record or file of a person described in this section. “Minimum information necessary” does not include any medical, psychiatric or psychological information, case histories or files of a person described in this section or any record or file of an originating agency or court. Id. For DSP’s rules regarding mental health reporting, see Or. Admin. R. 257-010-0010 et seq. ⤴︎
  6. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 426.160, 427.293. ⤴︎
  7. Or. Rev. Stat. § 426.130(1)(b)(D). ⤴︎
  8. Id. ⤴︎
  9. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.274. See also 2009 Ore. ALS 826. ⤴︎