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.
Nebraska has no law requiring the submittal of mental health records to NICS. However, Nebraska does require that certain mental health records be furnished to the Nebraska State Patrol for the sole purpose of determining whether an individual is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun.2 In addition, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) maintains a database of all persons ordered committed by the various courts or mental health boards after a determination that the person is or will be dangerous to himself, herself or others by reason of mental illness or defect.3 Court clerks are required to furnish such orders and related information to HHS and the Nebraska State Patrol within 30 days of the order of commitment.4 Nebraska law also provides that: “To ensure the accuracy of the data base, any information maintained or disclosed … shall be updated, corrected, modified, or removed, as appropriate, and as soon as practicable, from any data base that the state or federal government maintains and makes available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”5 The procedures for furnishing the information must guarantee that no information is released beyond what is necessary for these purposes.6
Nebraska law provides a process for a person prohibited from firearm possession under federal law because of a mental health-related commitment or adjudication, to petition the mental health board for relief.7 The petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety; and
(2) the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest. The mental health board is to consider evidence about the circumstances of the mental health commitment, the petitioner’s record and reputation, and any changes in the petitioners condition. The mental health board must grant relief if it finds that the petitioner has proven by clear and convincing evidence that the firearm-related disabilities should be removed. The petitioner may appeal a denial of the requested relief to the district court. If a person has relief granted, then the commitment or adjudication that lead to the prohibition must not be considered for purposes of reviewing an application for a concealed carry permit or handgun purchase/transfer permit in Nebraska.8
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Nebraska Background Checks section and the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally.