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.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is required to promulgate rules to convey information in a timely manner to the NICS database regarding individuals ordered not to possess a firearm under:
- Wis. Stat. § 51.20(13)(cv)(1) (mental health commitments where the individual is found to be a danger to self or public safety);
- § 51.45(13)(i)(1) (treatment for and commitment of an individual incapacitated by alcohol or suffering from alcoholism);
- § 54.10(3)(f)(1) (individuals who have a guardian appointed for them); or
- § 55.12(10)(a) (order of protective services or protective placement).2
DOJ is also required to promulgate rules to convey information to the NICS database for cancellations of court orders for these mental health-related issues.3
Court clerks are required to notify DOJ when a court determines an individual is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms because of any of the circumstances listed above, or subsequently restores the person’s eligibility to possess firearms.4 The clerk and DOJ may only disclose the information necessary to permit an accurate firearms restrictions record search.5 A 2014 law clarifies that this information may also be used in determining whether to issue or deny a concealed carry permit and in certain law enforcement investigations.
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Wisconsin Background Checks section and the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally.
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4).
- Wis. Stat. § 175.35(2g)(d)(1). Wisconsin law allows individuals in any of these categories to petition a court for an order restoring the person’s eligibility to possess firearms.
- Wis. Stat. § 175.35(2g)(d)(2). See Wis. Stat. §§ 51.20(13)(cv)(2), 51.45(13)(i)(2)(c), 54.10(3)(f)(2)(c) and 55.12(10)(b)(3).
- Wis. Stat. §§ 51.20(13)(cv)(4), 51.45(13)(i)(4), 54.10(3)(f)(4), 55.12(10)(d).
- Id. See also Wis. Stat. § 51.30(4)(b)(28).