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.

Georgia law requires the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) to provide to NICS all necessary criminal history information and wanted person records and information concerning persons who have been involuntarily hospitalized for the purpose of completing a NICS check.2

More specifically, GCIC must provide to the FBI in conjunction with the NICS and in accordance with the federal Brady Act information regarding whether a person has been involuntarily hospitalized.3 The probate courts must provide GCIC with information from the involuntary hospitalization records for persons involuntarily hospitalized after March 22, 1995.4 The probate courts must provide such information and no other mental health information, to preserve the confidentiality of patient’s rights in all other respects.5 This information must be provided in a manner agreed upon by the Probate Judges Training Council and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).6

Further, the clerks of the superior courts must also provide information regarding whether a person has been adjudicated mentally incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime, and has been involuntarily hospitalized, based on the clerks’ records for persons involuntarily hospitalized after March 22, 1995.7 This information must be provided in a manner agreed upon by the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia and the GBI to preserve the confidentiality of patient’s rights in all other respects.8 Five years from the date that GCIC receives a person’s involuntary hospitalization information, GCIC must purge its records of such information as soon as practicable and, in any event, within 30 days of the expiration of such five-year period.9

The Council of the GCIC is empowered to adopt rules, regulations, and forms necessary to implement these requirements.10

If an individual is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm as a result of being involuntarily hospitalized within the preceding 5 years, Georgia requires the Crime Information Center to provide the individual or his or her attorney, upon request, with the person’s record of involuntary hospitalization, and to inform the person of his or her right to a court hearing regarding his or her eligibility to possess or transport a handgun.11

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

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

Notes
  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). ⤴︎
  2. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-172(a) and (b). ⤴︎
  3. Ga. Code Ann. § 35-3-34(e)(2). ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. See also Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 140-2-.17(2). ⤴︎
  7. Ga. Code Ann. § 35-3-34(e)(2). ⤴︎
  8. Id. ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. Ga. Code Ann. § 35-3-34(e). See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 140-2-.17(2). ⤴︎
  11. Ga. Code Ann. § 35-3-37(r). ⤴︎