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.
Kentucky passed a law in 2011 to require a court that adjudicates a person as a mental defective or commits a person to a mental institution to submit that person’s name, other specified identifying information (e.g., Social Security number , date of birth), and the order of commitment to the Department of Kentucky State Police.2 The State Police must forward the information to the FBI for inclusion in the NICS database. The law also establishes a process by which a person may petition for relief of a firearm prohibition due to a history of mental illness.3
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Background Checks in Kentucky section and the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Kentucky.