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Federal law generally prohibits possession of firearms and ammunition by people who have been found by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority to be a danger to themselves or others, or to lack “the mental capacity to contract or manage [their] own affairs,” as a result of their mental condition or illness.1 Federal law also generally prohibits people from possessing firearms if they have been involuntarily hospitalized or committed to a mental health or substance abuse treatment facility by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority.2

No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals when they become ineligible to possess firearms to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers. As a result, state record reporting laws are critical to ensuring the accuracy and effectiveness of the background check system.

In 2013, Louisiana enacted a law to require that records of these individuals be sent to NICS.3 The law requires each district clerk of court to report to the Louisiana Supreme Court the name and other identifying information of any adult who is prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to state or federal law by reason of a criminal conviction or adjudication in a court of that district for any of the following:

  1. A conviction of a crime listed in La. Rev. Stat. 14:95.1(A);
  2. A verdict of an acquittal by reason of insanity;
  3. A court determination that a person does not have the mental capacity to proceed with a criminal trial;
  4. A court order requiring that a person be involuntarily committed to an inpatient mental health treatment facility;
  5. A court order prohibiting a person from possessing a firearm or restricting a person in the use of a firearm; or
  6. A felony conviction of domestic abuse battery.4

Starting January 1, 2017, each district clerk of court must also report to the Louisiana Supreme Court the name and other identifying information of any adult who is prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to state or federal law by reason of a criminal conviction or adjudication in a court of that district for any of the following:

  1. A misdemeanor conviction of domestic abuse battery;
  2. A verdict of an acquittal of a misdemeanor crime by reason of insanity;
  3. A court determination that a person does not have the mental capacity to proceed with a criminal trial for a misdemeanor crime; or
  4. A court order prohibiting a person from possessing a firearm or restricting a person in the use of a firearm.5

The clerk must submit the report to the Louisiana Supreme Court within ten business days of the date of conviction, adjudication, or order of involuntary commitment.6 The Louisiana Supreme Court must then, within fifteen business days of receipt of the report, submit the information in the report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database.7

In 2016, Louisiana passed a law requiring the Department of Health and Hospitals or the office of elderly affairs to comply with requests by the Louisiana Supreme Court for case records concerning individuals who have been committed to a mental institution or are otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms, for purposes of transmitting those records to NICS.8 The law specifies that providing the required information to the Louisiana Supreme Court for transmittal to NICS shall not be construed to violate any law regarding client confidentiality.9

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Louisiana Background Checks section and the section entitled Firearm Prohibitions in Louisiana.

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  1. Federal law, enacted in 1968, still uses archaic and offensive terminology to prohibit firearm access by people who have been “adjudicated as a mental defective.” 18 USC 922(g)(4). Federal regulations define that term to mean:
    (a) A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease
    (1) Is a danger to himself or to others; or
    (2) Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.Federal regulation also expressly clarifies that this firearm prohibition applies to:
    (1) A finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case; and
    (2) Those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility pursuant to [specified articles] of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 27 CFR § 478.11.[]
  2. Federal law generally prohibits firearm access by people who have previously been “committed to a mental institution.” 18 USC 922(g)(4). Federal regulations define this term to mean: “A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily. The term includes commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution.” 27 C.F.R. § 478.11.[]
  3. La. Rev. Stat. § 13:753.[]
  4. La. Rev. Stat. § 13:753(A).[]
  5. La. Rev. Stat. § 13:753(B).[]
  6. La. Rev. Stat. § 13:753(C).[]
  7. La. Rev. Stat. § 13:753(D).[]
  8. 2016 La. H.B. 135 (signed by the Governor June 9, 2016), creating La. R.S. § 46:56.1.[]
  9. Id.[]