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.
Illinois requires the Illinois Department of State Police (“DSP”) and the Illinois Department of Human Services to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the FBI for the purpose of implementing NICS.2 The DSP must report the name, date of birth, and physical description of any person prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to Illinois or federal law to the NICS Denied Persons File.3 Court clerks, the Department of Human Services, and all public or private hospitals and mental health facilities are required to inform the DSP of any such individual.4 The information disclosed is deemed privileged and confidential, and must be provided in such a way as to guarantee that no information is released beyond what is necessary to determine the eligibility of the person to possess a firearm.5
When a person has been adjudicated as a “mentally disabled person” under state law, the court must notify the Department of State Police within seven days, and DSP must notify NICS.6 This includes adjudications made by a state probate court.7 Illinois enacted a law in 2016 that requires courts to notify DSP every six months if no person has been adjudicated as a person with a mental disability by the court or if no person has been involuntarily admitted to a mental institution.8
A law adopted in 2013 requires certain school administrators and law enforcement officials to report to the Department of State Police within 24 hours when a person or student is determined to pose a “clear and present danger” to himself, herself, or to others.9 Similarly, if a physician, clinical psychologist, or qualified examiner determines that a person poses a clear and present danger to self or others, or to be “developmentally disabled,” the professional must report this person to the Department of Human Services within 24 hours, and this Department must transfer this information to DSP.10 If a law enforcement officer determines that any person poses a clear and present danger to self or others, the officer must report this person to DSP within 24 hours. All this information remains confidential and must not be redisclosed beyond what is necessary to determine the eligibility of the person to possess a firearm. Those who report information in compliance with this law may not be held criminally, civilly, or professionally liable for making such reports, except for wanton or willful misconduct.11
Regarding the use of mental health-related information, Illinois requires that an applicant for a FOID card sign a release that waives confidentiality and authorizes disclosure of his or her mental health information for the sole purpose of determining whether the applicant is or was a patient in a mental health institution and thus disqualified on that basis from receiving a FOID card.12 No mental health care or treatment records may be requested, and this information must be destroyed within one year of receipt.13
Illinois law provides a procedure for individuals subject to the federal prohibition against firearm possession by the mentally ill to request the State Police for relief from that prohibition. If relief is granted, the Director of the State Police must, as soon as practicable but in no case later than 15 business days, update, correct, modify, or remove the person’s record in any database that the Department of State Police makes available to NICS.14
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Background Checks in Illinois section and the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Illinois.
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1(e)(2).
- 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 110/12(b); 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8.1(b).
- 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 110/12(b).
- 405 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-103.1.
- Id.; 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11a-24.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8.1(b-1) as added by 2015 Ill. S.B. 2213.
- 405 Ill. Comp. Stat. 6-103.3.
- 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 110/12(b); 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8.1(d); 405 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-103.2-103.3.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 66/105; 405 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-103.3; 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8.1.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a)(3).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/10(f).