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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 involuntarily “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 2010, Idaho enacted a law that requires mental health records to be sent electronically to NICS.2 A court making a determination as to an individual’s mental state must also determine whether the individual should be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under federal law when the court does any of the following:

  • Orders commitment of the individual to a mental health facility;3
  • Orders that the individual submit for mental health treatment;4
  • Appoints a guardian;5
  • Appoints a conservator;6 or
  • Finds a defendant incompetent to stand trial.7

The clerk of a court that determines that an individual should be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under federal law must forward a copy of the relevant order to the Idaho state police, which will in turn forward it to NICS.8 The individual subject to such an order, however, may submit a petition to the magistrate division of the court that issued the order asking to be removed from the NICS database.9 The petition will be granted if evidence reveals that the petitioner is not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety or contrary to public interest.10 Whenever the court grants a petition for relief, the court’s clerk must immediately forward a copy of the order to the Idaho state police, which will in turn forward it to NICS for removal from the database.11

The following records are generally exempt from disclosure; however, this “shall not apply to the extent that such records or information contained in those records are necessary for a background check on an individual that is required by federal law regulating the sale of firearms, guns or ammunition:”

  • Records contained in court files of judicial proceedings, the disclosure of which is prohibited by or under rules adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court;
  • Records related to the provision of statutory services to the mentally handicapped;
  • Records of hospital care;
  • Medical records;
  • Records of psychiatric care or treatment; and
  • Professional counseling records.12

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Idaho Background Checks and Idaho 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. Idaho Code Ann. §§ 67-3003(1)(i), 66-356.[]
  3. See Idaho Code Ann. § 66-329.[]
  4. See Idaho Code Ann. § 66-406.[]
  5. See Idaho Code Ann. §§ 66-322, 15-5-304, 15-5-407[]
  6. See Idaho Code Ann. §§ 15-5-407(b), 15-5-407.[]
  7. Idaho Code Ann. § 66-356(1); see also Idaho Code Ann. § 16-212; 18 U.S.C. § 922 (d)(4), (g)(4).[]
  8. Idaho Code Ann. § 66-356.[]
  9. Idaho Code Ann. § 66-356.[]
  10. Id.[]
  11. Idaho Code §§ 66-356(3), 67-3003(1)(i).[]
  12. Idaho Code Ann. §§ 9-340A(2), 9-340C(6), (13).[]