Posted on August 20, 2015
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.
Missouri law authorizes, but does not require, the Missouri State Highway Patrol to submit mental health records to the NICS database. 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
Missouri has also enacted a restoration of rights procedure by which a person who has been adjudged incapacitated or involuntarily committed, or who is otherwise subject to federal law’s mental health related firearm prohibitions as a result of an adjudication or commitment that occurred in Missouri, may petition for the removal of the disqualification to possess a firearm.6 The petition shall be filed in the circuit court with jurisdiction in the petitioner’s place of residence, or which entered the letters of guardianship, most recent order for involuntary commitment, or most recent disqualifying order, whichever is later.7 Upon receipt of the petition, the clerk shall schedule a hearing and provide notice of the hearing to the petitioner.8 The court is required to grant the petition if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety; and (2) granting the relief is not contrary to the public interest.9 In order to determine whether to grant the petition, the court may request the local prosecuting attorney, circuit attorney, or attorney general to provide a written recommendation as to whether the petition should be granted. ((Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.092.4.)) 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.10 The Highway Patrol must then contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation to effect this updating within 21 days of receiving the order.11 In the event that the petition is denied, the petitioner may appeal such denial after the expiration of one year from the date of such denial, and the review shall be de novo.12
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.
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.120.1. [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. § 630.140.5. [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. § 552.030.7. [↩]
- Id. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 43.503.6-7. [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.092. [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.092.2). [↩]
- Id. [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.092.3. [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.092.7. [↩]
- Id. [↩]
- Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 571.092.8-9. [↩]