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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 New Jersey law created an exception to the rule of confidentiality for inpatient records for when “disclosure is needed to comply with the data reporting provisions of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, Pub.L.110-180, and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, Pub.L.103-159.”2

More significantly, a 2013 law states:

Any person seeking to purchase or possess a firearm in New Jersey must obtain either a permit to purchase a handgun or a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC) following a background check, among other requirements.4 Applicants for a permit to purchase a handgun or FPIC must state:

The applicant must “waive any statutory or other right of confidentiality relating to institutional confinement.”6

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the New Jersey Background Checks and New Jersey 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. N.J. Stat. § 30:4-24.3.[]
  3. N.J. Stat. § 30:4-24.3a.[]
  4. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3(c)(2), (3); N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.5.[]
  5. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3(e).[]
  6. Id.[]