Posted on January 1, 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.
Any person seeking to purchase or possess a firearm in New Jersey must obtain either a permit to purchase a handgun or a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC) following a background check, among other requirements.2 Applicants for a permit to purchase a handgun or FPIC must waive confidentiality and agree to disclosure of their mental health records.3 A state regulation requires the “county adjuster” to search for any history of an applicant’s psychiatric admissions within the county.4
New Jersey collects state mental health records and checks these records prior to approving a firearm transfer, even though the state has no statute or formal regulation authorizing submission of that information to NICS. New Jersey also searches in-state mental health records in connection with all firearm transfers.5
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the New Jersey Background Checks and New Jersey 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). [↩]
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3c(2), (3); N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.5. [↩]
- N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3e; N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.4(b). Records and reports concerning persons who received services in non-correctional state institutions are usually required to be kept confidential, but such information may be disclosed to comply with data reporting provisions for firearm-related background checks. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 30:4-24.3e. [↩]
- N.J. Admin. Code § 10:7-7.1(c). [↩]
- See N.J. Admin. Code §§ 10:7-7.1(c) and 13:54-1.4(d). [↩]