Federal law prohibits any person from selling or otherwise transferring a firearm or ammunition to any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law 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.
Under Maryland law, when a person is admitted to a state facility providing mental health treatment for 30 consecutive days or more or has been involuntarily committed to a state facility, the following information must be reported to the NICS index: 1) the name and identifying information of the person admitted or committed; 2) the date the person was admitted or committed to the facility; and 3) the name of the facility to which the person was admitted or committed.2
A Maryland court must promptly report to the NICS database: 1) the name and identifying information of an individual; and 2) the date of a specific determination or finding, if that court:
- Determines that a person is “not criminally responsible” (i.e. committed to the state Health Department);
- Finds that a person is incompetent to stand trial; or
- Finds that the person should be under protection of a guardian because he or she cannot manage his or her affairs for mental health-related reasons (except for cases in which the appointment of a guardian is solely a result of a physical disability).3
Maryland requires any facility that admits an individual with a mental disorder to submit a report to the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene within 10 days after admission.4
In addition, the Secretary of the Maryland Department of State Police (DSP) requires, as part of the application to purchase, rent or transfer a handgun or assault weapon, the applicant’s written authorization to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “or any other similar agency or department of another state,” to disclose to DSP whether the applicant: 1) suffers from a mental disorder and has a history of violent behavior against anyone; and 2) has been confined for more than 30 consecutive days to a mental health facility.5
Courts must notify the Criminal Justice Information System Central Repository of any commitment ordered upon a determination that a defendant is incompetent to stand trial, or a determination that a person is not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder or mental retardation.6 State law is unclear as to whether this information affects firearm transfers.
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Background Checks in Maryland and Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Maryland sections.
See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.