Mental Health Reporting in Hawaii

Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Federal law prohibits any person from selling or otherwise transferring a firearm or ammunition to any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law 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 2014, Hawaii enacted a law requiring courts to report people involuntarily committed, as inpatients or outpatients, to the Hawaii criminal justice center, which must in turn transmit this information to NICS.  This information must also be available to law enforcement officers for the purposes of Hawaii’s firearms permitting and registration laws.2 The normal rules of confidentiality do not apply. 3  The 2014 law also provided a procedure for people prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law due to mental illness to regain their gun eligibility. 4

Health care providers and public health authorities in Hawaii must disclose mental health information of persons seeking to purchase or own a firearm to county chiefs of police in response to requests for such information.5 This information is to be used solely for evaluating a person’s fitness to acquire or own a firearm.6 Hawaii requires applicants for permits to purchase or acquire firearms to authorize disclosure of mental health information. Applicants must sign a waiver when completing the application that allows the Chief of Police of the county issuing a permit access to any records that have a bearing on the mental health of the applicant.7

The Department of Health is required to keep a medical record of each person committed to the custody of the department or hospitalized because the person is dangerous and there is no less restrictive alternative available, because he or she lacks fitness to proceed in a criminal case, or because he or she has been acquitted on grounds of mental disorder or defect, is dangerous and is not a proper subject for conditional release.8

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

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

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []
  2. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 334-60.5. []
  3. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 334-5(7). []
  4. 2013 HI H.B. 2246. []
  5. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3.5. []
  6. Id. []
  7. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134-2(c), 134-3.5(2). []
  8. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 334-2.5(c)(4), 704-406(1), 704-411(1). []

Mental Health Reporting in Rhode Island

Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014

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 2014, Rhode Island enacted a law requiring courts to report people who are involuntarily committed to mental institutions as inpatients to NICS, and provides an exception to the rules of confidentiality for this disclosure.2  The law also establishes a program for people prohibited from possessing guns under federal law due to mental illness to regain the gun eligibility.

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

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

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []
  2. 2013 RI H.B. 7939 (enacted July 3, 2014). []

Mental Health Reporting in South Dakota

Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014

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.

In 2014, South Dakota enacted a law requiring the board of mental illness to report within seven working days any person involuntarily committed because he or she is a danger to self or others to the Attorney General for reporting to NICS. The law also requires a prosecuting attorney to report within seven working days any person who is acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity or determined to be incompetent to stand trial to the Attorney General for reporting to NICS. The Attorney General must transmit this information to NICS. The law also provides a procedure for a person prohibited from possessing guns under federal law due to mental illness to regain his or her gun eligibility.2

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

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []
  2. 2014 S.D. H.B. 1229. []

Mental Health Reporting in Tennessee

Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014

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.

A 2009 Tennessee law requires submission of mental health records to NICS. The state’s circuit courts, criminal courts, general sessions courts, county/probate courts and chancery courts that have ordered a commitment to a mental institution or that have adjudicated a person as mentally defective are required to report this fact to NICS and the Tennessee Department of Safety.2

This reporting must include the:

  • Complete name and all aliases of the individual judicially committed or adjudicated as a mental defective, including any names that the individual may have had or currently has by reason of marriage or otherwise;
  • Case or docket number of the judicial commitment or adjudication as a mental defective;
  • Date judicial commitment was ordered or adjudication as a mental defective was made;
  • Private or state hospital or treatment resource to which the individual was judicially committed; and
  • Date of birth of the individual judicially committed or adjudicated as a mental defective, if such information has been provided to the clerk.3

The aforementioned information is confidential and not subject to public inspection except if necessary for any proceedings for the suspension or revocation of handgun carry permits.4

Tennessee enacted a law in 2013 that requires clerks of court to confirm with the administrative office of the courts when these reports are made to NICS.  The law also requires these reports to be made as soon as practicable, but no later than the third business day following the date of such an order or adjudication.  If a clerk of court is unable to make a report to NICS, he or she must provide the administrative office of the courts with sufficient information so the office can make the report.  The law also details the results of noncompliance.5

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

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

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []
  2. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 16-10-213(b), (c), 16-11-206(b), (c), 16-15-303(g)(2), 16-16-120(b). The documentation and reporting requirements of mental health adjudications and judicial commitments to mental institutions discussed in this section apply to any clerk of court that maintains such records. Tenn. Code Ann. § 33-3-115. []
  3. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 16-10-213(c), 16-11-206(c), 16-15-303(g)(3), 16-16-120(c). []
  4. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 16-10-213(d), 16-11-206(d), 16-15-303(g)(4), 16-16-120(d). []
  5. 2013 TN S.B. 789. []

Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Arizona

Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014

See our Prohibited Purchasers Generally Policy Summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.

Similarly, Arizona prohibits a person from knowingly possessing a firearm if the person:

  • Has been convicted of a felony or who has been adjudicated delinquent for a felony and whose civil right to possess or carry a firearm has not been restored;
  • Is at the time of possession serving a term of imprisonment in any correctional or detention facility;
  • Is at the time of possession serving a term of probation pursuant to a conviction for a domestic violence offense or a felony offense, parole, community supervision, work furlough, home arrest or release on any other basis;
  • Is an undocumented alien or a nonimmigrant alien traveling with or without documentation in this state for business or pleasure or who is studying in this state and who maintains a foreign residence abroad, subject to certain exceptions;
  • Has been found to constitute a danger to himself or herself or others or to be persistently or acutely disabled or gravely disabled pursuant to court order, and whose right to possess a firearm has not been restored;
  • Has been found incompetent, and not subsequently found competent; or
  • Has been found guilty except insane.1

Arizona also prohibits any person who was previously adjudicated delinquent for an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, from possessing, using or carrying a firearm within ten years from the date of his or her adjudication or release or escape from custody if the person was previously adjudicated for an offense that, if committed as an adult, would constitute:

  • Burglary in the first degree;
  • Burglary in the second degree;
  • Arson;
  • Any felony offense involving the use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or
  • A “serious offense.”2

If a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent for an offense that if committed by an adult would be a misdemeanor, the court may prohibit the juvenile from carrying or possessing a firearm while the juvenile is under the jurisdiction of the department of juvenile corrections or the juvenile court.3

Restoration of firearm rights: The time when a convicted felon or a person adjudicated delinquent may file for restoration of firearm rights depends on the seriousness of the offense; some felons and persons adjudicated delinquent are able to seek restoration as soon as two years after discharge from probation or imprisonment.4 In addition, in 2009, Arizona established a procedure through which a person who was found to constitute a danger to himself, herself, or others or to be persistently or acutely disabled or gravely disabled may have his or her right to possess a firearm restored.5 This procedure was amended in 2011.6

An emergency or final protective order against domestic violence may prohibit the defendant from possessing or purchasing a firearm for the duration of the order. For more information, see Domestic Violence and Firearms in Arizona .

For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see Background Checks in Arizona.

  1. Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-3102(A)(4) and 13-3101(A)(7). Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-904(A)(5) also states that a conviction for a felony suspends the person’s right to possess a firearm. A person who is adjudicated delinquent under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-341 for a felony also does not have the right to carry or possess a gun or firearm. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-904(H). []
  2. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3113. “Serious offense” is defined in Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-706. []
  3. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-341(R). []
  4. Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-105(13), 13-905 – 13-912.01. []
  5. 2009 Ariz. ALS 145 § 1 (codified as Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-925). []
  6. 2011 Ariz. ALS 304 §§ 2-3. []

Mental Health Reporting in Arizona

Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014

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.

In 2014, Arizona enacted a law requiring courts to transmit information to the Supreme Court of Arizona, which must transmit it to the Department of Safety, which must transmit it to NICS, whenever the court:

  • Finds a person incompetent, or subsequently competent, or guilty except insane;
  • Appoints a guardian for an adult, except when the appointment of a guardian is due solely to the person’s physical incapacity;
  • Terminates a guardianship; or
  • Finds a person to constitute a danger to self or others or to be persistently or acutely disabled or gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder, and the court enters an order for inpatient or outpatient treatment.2

A 2011 Arizona law requires reporting to NICS when a formerly mentally ill person’s eligibility to possess firearms is restored. If a court grants a petition restoring a person’s eligibility to possess firearms, the court must promptly notify the Supreme Court of Arizona and DPS. As soon thereafter as practicable, DPS must update, correct, modify or remove the person’s record in any database that DPS “maintains and makes available to [NICS] consistent with the rules pertaining to the database.” Moreover, within ten business days after receiving the notification from the court, DPS must notify the United States Attorney General that the person no longer falls within the provisions of Arizona and federal law prohibiting possession of firearms.3

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

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []
  2. 2014 AZ H.B. 2322. []
  3. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-925(h). []

Victory in California: Governor Brown Signs Two New Gun Safety Bills

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

SONY DSCOn Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two important gun safety bills into law, one that will close a large loophole in California’s “Unsafe Handgun” law and another that will speed up court communication with law enforcement regarding mental health records.

AB 1964: Closing a Dangerous Loophole

California’s “Unsafe Handgun” law, on the books since 1999, requires handguns sold in the state to first pass standard safety testing and be equipped with basic safety features, such as loaded chamber indicators, which are designed to help prevent accidental shootings. A loophole in this law allowed single-shot handguns to completely bypass these safety requirements. After being sold, these single-shot handguns could be easily modified back into their fully-functional, semiautomatic form, creating a dangerous and frequently exploited situation. Last year alone, 18,000 single-shot handguns were sold in California.

AB 1964 closes this loophole and will ensure that the “Unsafe Handgun” law truly covers all handguns. This will keep dangerous junk guns off the streets and ensure that every handgun sold in the state complies with California’s rigorous safety standards.

AB 1591: Speeding Up Communication between Courts and the CA Department of Justice

Under current law, when a court takes an action that would prohibit a person from possessing a firearm because of mental health—such as a finding that the person is mentally incompetent to stand trial—that action must be reported to the California Department of Justice within two court days. The reported information is critical in helping to ensure that firearms are not acquired by individuals who might pose a danger to themselves or others. AB 1591 speeds up communication between courts and the CA Department of Justice by requiring that this important data is reported as quickly as possible, within one court day.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is confident both of these laws will reduce gun violence in our state and we applaud the Governor and the Legislature for taking steps to keep Californians safe. For more information on pending gun safety legislation in California, including SB 53, the Law Center’s priority bill for 2014 which would regulate ammunition sales, see our update on California Legislation. For a full description of existing laws to reduce gun violence in California, visit our summary of California gun laws.

Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with Americans for Responsible Solutions to release Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations. This collaborative report provides analysis of laws that help to empower community members to prevent gun violence in crisis situations.

Together, the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to develop solutions to keep guns out of dangerous hands through careful research and legislative drafting. The Law Center’s unparalleled legal expertise and the formidable grassroots network of Americans for Responsible Solutions will ensure that the best information available on smart gun policies reaches legislators nationwide.

Download a PDF copy of Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations

Preventing the Next Mass Shooting Before It’s News

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown. Most Americans can easily list many of the high profile mass shootings that our nation has experienced. News reports after these events frequently mention that friends, family members, and acquaintances noted a change in the shooter’s behavior in the time leading up to the tragedy. While a variety of legislative proposals can help reduce mass shootings, one approach is to give community members ways to act, so that access to guns can be temporarily removed when a person is in crisis.

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The Law Center’s 21st Anniversary Dinner – June 25, 2014

Posted on Monday, July 14th, 2014

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Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Law Center’s 21st Anniversary Dinner. We were honored to have the opportunity to award Anne Marks from Youth ALIVE! and Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly for their meaningful work. If you missed the event, watch the highlights and hear what Gabby and the other speakers wanted to share with the crowd:

Thirteen-year-old Sukari Wright, a poet with Youth Speaks, also shared her incredibly moving experience with the crowd:

The Law Center’s Anniversary Dinner is always a meaningful event that brings together our community to honor the exceptional efforts of a few key individuals for their outstanding leadership in the gun violence prevention movement. The dinner, with an audience of 500 – 700 attorneys, legal and business professionals, and advocates for smart gun laws from all over the country, is a truly remarkable event without parallel.

We were pleased to honor Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly as well as Youth ALIVE! for their courageous work on this issue at this year’s event.

Thank you to all who joined us on June 25th as we marked 21 years of the Law Center’s work saving lives with smart gun laws, honored outstanding leadership in our community, and energized the efforts of the national movement.


The Law Center’s 21st Anniversary Dinner
June 25, 2014
The Westin St. Francis | San Francisco

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Dangerous Constitutional Amendment Allows Convicted Felons to Challenge Common Sense Gun Laws

Posted on Friday, July 11th, 2014
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Photo by Brett Duke, NOLA.com The Times-Picayune

This week the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously upheld a state law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms. Despite this positive outcome, the case actually illustrates the very real dangers of an alarming trend that has recently emerged in certain parts of the country.

Challenges to the law arose after a dangerous and imprudent amendment was made to Louisiana’s constitution in 2012, requiring that all challenged state gun laws be subject to “strict scrutiny” review— the highest level of judicial review that exists. The Louisiana Constitution, like many other state constitutions, recognizes a right to keep and bear arms. However, in 2012, voters approved an NRA-supported amendment—the first of its kind approved in the U.S.—defining the right as “fundamental” and requiring courts to apply “strict scrutiny” when reviewing firearm regulations.

Because of this new “strict scrutiny” requirement, three convicted felons were able to challenge their convictions under a Louisiana statute which generally bars felons from possessing a firearm for ten years after the completion of their sentence. The challengers to the law in this case had been convicted of a variety of crimes including second degree battery, narcotics trafficking, and unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling.

The question was whether Louisiana may prohibit convicted felons from possessing firearms after serving their sentences. The Louisiana Supreme Court found “beyond question” that this law serves to protect public safety by keeping firearms out of the hands of those who are more likely to misuse them. In the words of the court, the case demonstrated that “convicted felons are not only at risk to re-offend, but are at risk to re-offend using firearms.” In upholding the law, the court concluded that “common sense and the public safety allow no other result.”

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