Posted on January 2, 2012
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 Missouri, all records required to be closed – that is, confidential – are generally inaccessible to the public.2 However, records and files concerning court proceedings for mental health and psychiatric issues are available to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for reporting to the FBI for inclusion in NICS.3
When a criminal defendant is acquitted on the ground of “mental disease or defect excluding culpability,” the judgment must state that fact along with the offense for which the defendant was acquitted.4 The clerk of court must furnish a copy of any judgment, or order of commitment to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, to the criminal records central repository.5
In addition, a person who has been adjudged incapacitated or involuntarily committed may petition for the removal of the disqualification to possess a firearm. If the petition is granted, the court clerk must forward the order to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for updating of the petitioner’s record with NICS.6
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Missouri Background Checks and Missouri Prohibited Purchasers Generally sections.
See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.