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 Connecticut, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) must report to the NICS Denied Persons File the name, date of birth and physical description of any person prohibited from possessing a firearm, pursuant to federal law.2 Connecticut requires DESPP, the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and the state Judicial Department to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the FBI for the purpose of implementing NICS.3.
The Commissioner of DESPP is required to verify that a person who seeks a permit to sell at retail a pistol or revolver, a permit to carry a pistol or revolver, an eligibility certificate for a pistol or revolver, a certificate of possession for an assault weapon or a long gun eligibility certificate has not been confined in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding 60 months by order of a probate court, or has not been voluntarily admitted to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding six months for care and treatment (see below for more on voluntary admissions), by inquiring with DMHAS to receive a report limited to the commitment or admission status of the person.4
The Commissioner of DMHAS must maintain information on commitment orders by a probate court, as well as voluntary admissions, and provide such information to the Commissioner of DESPP in fulfillment of his or her obligations under Connecticut’s gun laws.5
In 2011, Connecticut enacted a law establishing a procedure for an individual prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law for mental health reasons to petition for relief from the federal prohibition. If the petition is granted, the Commissioner of DESPP must coordinate the removal or cancellation of the record in NICS, and notify the U.S. Attorney General that the basis of the record no longer applies.6
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Background Checks in Connecticut and Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Connecticut sections.
Reporting Voluntary Admissions to a Psychiatric Hospital
As of October 1, 2013, DMHAS must maintain information on voluntary admissions, and make that information available to the Commissioner of DESPP to carry out his or her obligations pertaining to gun credentials.7
The Commissioner of DESPP must verify from DMHAS that a person applying for a gun credential was not subject to such a voluntary admission, and DMHAS must report such information to DESPP. If the Commissioner determines that an applicant is subject to voluntary admission, the Commissioner must report the status of the person’s application to DMHAS.8
The Commissioner of DMHAS must obtain from DESPP the status of any such applications for anyone who has been voluntarily admitted. DMHAS must advise the psychiatric hospital to which a person has been voluntarily admitted of the status of a gun application, as reported by DESPP. Finally, the DMHAS Commissioner and the hospital must maintain as confidential any such information they receive on the status of permit applications.9
Connecticut law requires psychiatric hospitals, without delay, to notify the Commissioner of DMHAS when a person is voluntarily admitted to the hospital for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability, other than admission solely for alcohol or drug treatment.10 The hospital must at least provide the person’s name, address, gender, date of birth, and date of admission. The Commissioner of DMHAS must maintain such identifying information on all voluntary admissions occurring on and after October 1, 2013.11
See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36l(d)(2).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38b(a).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-500(b).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-100.
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-500(b).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-500(b), (c).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-500(c)(3), (4).
- Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-506a.