Possession of Firearms by People With Mental Illness

11/9/2021

GunPossession of a firearm by the mentally ill is regulated by both state and federal laws.

Federal Law

Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(d), it is unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.” 

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STATE LAWS
State Laws Regarding Firearm Possession/Purchase and Mental Illness

Alabama

§ 13A-11-72

No person of unsound mind shall own a firearm or have one in his or her possession or under his or her control.  Unsound mind includes any person who is subject to any of the findings listed below, and who has not had his or her rights to possess a firearm reinstated by operation of law or legal process:

(1) Found by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease, is a danger to himself or herself or others or lacks the mental capacity
to contract or manage his or her own affairs.

(2) Found to be insane, not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, found mentally incompetent to stand trial, or found not guilty by a reason of lack of mental responsibility by a court in a criminal case, to include state, federal and
military courts.

(3) Involuntarily committed for a final commitment for inpatient treatment to the Department of Mental Health or a Veterans' Administration hospital by a court after a hearing.

Alaska

§ 47.30.851

A person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4) as a result of an involuntary commitment or an adjudication of mental illness or mental incompetence that occurred in this state may, at any time, move to be relieved from the disability resulting from an involuntary commitment or an adjudication of mental illness or mental incompetence.

Arizona

§ 13-3101, § 13-3102

Arizona prohibits possession of a firearm by any person who: Has been found to constitute a danger to himself or herself or others pursuant to court order under § 36-540, and whose right to possess a firearm has not been restored pursuant to § 13-925.

Arkansas

§ 5-73-103.

No person shall possess or own any firearm who has been … adjudicated mentally ill or committed involuntarily to any mental institution.

California

Welf. & Inst. Code § 8100

(a) A person shall not have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control, or purchase or receive, or attempt to purchase or receive, any firearms whatsoever or any other deadly weapon, if on or after Jan. 1, 1992, he or she has been admitted to a facility and is receiving inpatient treatment and, in the opinion of the attending health professional who is primarily responsible for the patient's treatment of a mental disorder, is a danger to self or others, as specified by Section 5150, 5250, or 5300, even though the patient has consented to that treatment. A person is not subject to the prohibition in this subdivision after he or she is discharged from the facility.

Welf. & Inst. Code § 8103

(a)(1) A person who after Oct. 1, 1955, has been adjudicated by a court of any state to be a danger to others as a result of a mental disorder or mental illness, or who has been adjudicated to be a mentally disordered sex offender, shall not purchase or receive, or attempt to purchase or receive, or have in his or her possession, custody, or control a firearm or any other deadly weapon unless there has been issued to the person a certificate by the court of adjudication upon release from treatment or at a later date stating that the person may possess a firearm or any other deadly weapon without endangering others, and the person has not, subsequent to the issuance of the certificate, again been adjudicated by a court to be a danger to others as a result of a mental disorder or mental illness.

Colorado

HB19-1177 (2019)

Creates the ability for a family or household member or a law enforcement officer to petition the court for a temporary extreme risk protection order (ERPO) beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. The petitioner must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm. The petitioner must submit an affidavit signed under oath and penalty of perjury that sets forth facts to support the issuance of a temporary ERPO and a reasonable basis for believing they exist. The court must hold a temporary ERPO hearing in person or by telephone on the day the petition is filed or on the court day immediately following the day the petition is filed.

Connecticut

§ 53a-217c

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a pistol or revolver when such person possesses a pistol or revolver, as defined in section 29-27 and:

Has been discharged from custody within the preceding twenty years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect pursuant to section 53a-13; or

Has been confined prior to October 1, 2013, in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities, as defined in section 17a-495, within the preceding sixty months by order of probate court.

Delaware

11 Del. Code § 1448, § 1448A

The following persons are prohibited from purchasing, owning, possessing, or controlling a deadly weapon or ammunition for a firearm within the state:

Any person who has ever been committed for a mental disorder to any hospital, mental institution or sanitarium, unless such person can demonstrate that he or she is no longer prohibited from possessing a firearm by possessing a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in Delaware hat the person is no longer suffering from a mental disorder which interferes or handicaps the person from handling deadly weapons.

District of Columbia

§ 7-2502.03

No registration certificate shall be issued to any person or organization unless it is determined that such person:

Has not, within the 5-year period preceding the application, been acquitted of any criminal charge by reason of insanity or has not been adjudicated a chronic alcoholic by any court, unless the person possesses a medical certification indicated that the applicant has recovered from such insanity or alcoholic condition and is capable of safe and responsible possession of a firearm; and

Has not, within the 5-year period preceding the application, ben voluntarily or involuntarily committed to any mental hospital or institution, unless the person possesses a medical certification that the applicant has recovered from whatever malady prompted such commitment.

Florida

§ 790.065

Upon receipt of a request for a criminal history record check, the Department of Law Enforcement shall, during the licensee’s call or by return call forthwith:

Review any records available to determine if the potential buyer or transferee:

Has been adjudicated mentally defective or has been committed to a mental institution by a court, and as a result is prohibited by state or federal law from purchasing a firearm.

§ 790.06

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall issue a license to carry concealed weapons or concealed firearms if the applicant:

Has not been committed to a mental institution, under chapter 394 or similar laws of any other state.

Georgia

§ 16-11-129

No weapons carry license shall be issued to:

Any person who has been hospitalized as an inpatient in any mental hospital or alcohol or drug treatment center within the five years immediately preceding the application;

Any person who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent to stand trial; or

Any person who has been adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime.

Hawaii

§ 134-7

No person shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition therefor, unless the person has been medically documented to be no longer adversely affected by the addiction, abuse, dependence, mental disease, disorder, or defect if the person:

Is or has been under treatment or counseling for addiction to, abuse of, or dependence upon any dangerous, harmful, or detrimental drug, intoxicating compound or intoxicating liquor;

Has been acquitted of a crime on the grounds of mental disease, disorder, or defect; or

Is or has been diagnosed as having a significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorders as defined by the most current diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association or for treatment for organic brain syndromes.

§ 134-6.5

Medical documentation that petitioner is no longer adversely affected by condition that resulted in adjudication or commitment and is not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.

Idaho

§ 18-3302

 A license to carry concealed weapons shall not be issued to any person who:

Is currently suffering from or has been adjudicated as having suffered from any of the following conditions, based on substantial evidence:

Lacking mental capacity, as defined in Id. Code § 18-210;

Mentally ill, as defined in Id. Code § 66-317;

Gravely disabled, as defined in Id. Code § 66-317; or

An incapacitated person, as defined in Id. Code § 15-5-101.

Illinois

720 ILCS 5/24-3

A person commits the offense of unlawful sale or delivery of firearms when he or she knowingly:

Sells or gives any firearm to any person who has been a patient in a mental institution within the past 5 years; or

Sells or gives any firearms to any person who is a person with an intellectual disability.

720 ILCS 5/24-3.1

A person commits the offense of unlawful possession of firearms or firearm ammunition when:

He has been a patient in a mental institution within the past 5 years and has any firearms or firearm ammunition in his possession; or

He is a person with an intellectual disability and has any firearms or firearm ammunition in his possession.

Indiana

§ 33-23-15-2

(a) If a person described in section 1 of this chapter:

(1) has been released from commitment; or

(2) successfully completes a treatment or rehabilitation program;

the person may petition the court (if the adjudication leading to the person's commitment, rehabilitation, or treatment program was from a court) or the department of correction (if the determination leading to the person's rehabilitation or treatment program was from a psychiatrist employed by or retained by the department of correction) to determine whether the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm because the person is not a proper person under IC 35-47-1-7(11) through IC 35-47-1-7(13) .

Iowa

§ 724.15

Any person who desires to acquire ownership of any pistol or revolver shall first obtain a permit. A permit shall be issued upon request to any resident of this state unless the person:

Is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm.

§ 922(d)(4)

It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person:

Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.

Kansas

§ 21-6301

Criminal use of weapons is knowingly:

Selling, giving, or otherwise transferring any firearm to any person who is or has been a mentally ill person subject to involuntary commitment for care and treatment, or a person with an alcohol or substance abuse problem subject to involuntary commitment for care and treatment.

Kentucky

§ 237.108

(1) A court that orders a commitment or makes a finding or adjudication under which a person becomes subject to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. sec. 922(d)(4) and (g)(4) shall order the circuit clerk to forward the person’s name and nonclinical identifying information, including the person’s Social Security number and date of birth, along with a copy of the order of commitment to the Department of Kentucky State Police, which in turn shall forward the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, its successor agency, or agency designated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database. The court shall also notify the person of the prohibitions of 18.

Louisiana

§ 40:1379.3

To qualify for a concealed handgun permit, a Louisiana resident shall:

Not suffer from a mental or physical infirmity due to disease, illness, or intellectual disability which prevents the safe handling of a gun; or

Not have been adjudicated to be mentally deficient or been committed to a mental institution, unless the resident’s right to possess a firearm has been restored.

Maine

15 M.R.S. § 393

A person may not own, possess, or have under that person’s control a firearm, unless that person has obtained a permit under this section, if that person:

Has been found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing certain enumerated crimes.

Maryland

PUBLIC SAFETY § 5-133

A person may not possess a regulated firearm if the person:

Suffers from a mental disorder and has a history of violent behavior against the person or another;

Has been found incompetent to stand trial because of mental retardation or mental disorder;

Has been found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity;

Has been voluntarily admitted for more than 30 consecutive days to a mental health treatment facility; or

Has been involuntarily committed to a mental health treatment facility.

Massachusetts

Ch. 140, § 131

All licenses to carry firearms shall be designated Class A or Class B, and the issuance and possession of any such license shall not be extended to a person who:

Is or has been committed to a hospital or institution for mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse, unless after 5 years from the date of the confinement, the applicant submits with the application an affidavit of a licensed physician or clinical psychologist attesting that the applicant is not disabled by a mental illness in a manner that shall prevent the applicant from possessing a firearm, rifle, or shotgun;

Is or has been committed by a court order to a hospital or institution for mental illness; or

Is or has been subject to an order of the probate court appointing a guardian or conservator for an incapacitated person on the grounds that the applicant lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage the applicant’s affairs.

Ch. 123, § 36C

Court may consider evidence that person no longer has the disease or condition that caused the disability or that disease or condition has been successfully treated for a period of 3 consecutive years.

Michigan

§ 28.422

A person shall not purchase, carry, possess, or transport a pistol in this state without first having obtained a license for the pistol as described in this section.

A person will not qualify for a license if:

The person is under an order of involuntary commitment in an inpatient or outpatient setting due to mental illness; or

The person has been adjudged legally incapacitated in this state or elsewhere.

Minnesota

§ 624.713

The following persons shall not be entitled to possess ammunition or a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon or any other firearm:

A person who is or has ever been committed in Minnesota or elsewhere by a judicial determination that the person is mentally ill, to a treatment facility, or who has ever been found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental illness, unless the person’s ability to possess a firearm and ammunition has been restored.

Mississippi

§ 45-9-101

The Department of Public Safety shall not issue a license to carry stun guns, concealed pistols, or revolvers if the applicant:

Has been adjudicated mentally incompetent, or has waited five years from the date of his restoration to capacity by court order; or

Has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or mental health treatment facility unless he possesses a certificate from a psychiatrist licensed in this state that he has not suffered from disability for a period of five years.

Missouri

§ 571.070

A person commits the offense of unlawful possession of a firearm if such person knowingly has any firearm in his or her possession and:

Such person is currently adjudged mentally incompetent.

Montana

§ 45-8-321

A license to carry a concealed weapon may be denied to a person who:

Has been adjudicated in a criminal or civil proceeding in any state or federal court to be mentally ill, mentally disordered, or mentally disabled and is still subject to a disposition order of that court.

Nebraska

§ 69-2433

A concealed handgun permit applicant shall:

Not have been found in the previous ten years to be a mentally ill and dangerous person under the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act or a similar law of another jurisdiction or not be currently adjudged mentally incompetent.

Nevada

§ 202.360

A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control a firearm if the person:

Has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility by a court of this state, any other state, or the United States;

Has been found guilty but mentally ill in a court of this state, any state, or the United States; or

Has been acquitted by reason of insanity in a court of this state, any other state, or the United States.

New Hampshire

N/A

New Jersey

§ 2c:58-3

No handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card shall be issued:

To any person who is confined for a mental disorder to a hospital, mental institution, or sanitarium, or to any person who is presently a habitual drunkard;

To any person who has ever been confined for a mental disorder unless the person produced a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey, or other satisfactory proof, that his is no longer suffering from that particular disability in a manner that would interfere with or handicap him in the handling of firearms.

New Mexico

§ 29-19-4

The Department shall issue a concealed handgun license to an applicant who:

Has not been adjudicated mentally incompetent or committed to a mental institution.

New York

Penal Law § 400.00

No license shall be issued or renewed except for an applicant:

Who has stated whether he or she has ever suffered any mental illness;

Who has not been involuntarily committed to a facility under the jurisdiction of an office of the department of mental hygiene; or

Who has not been civilly confined in a secure treatment facility pursuant to article ten of the mental hygiene law.

Ment. Hyg. Law § 7.09

Applicant may provide an evaluation, which should include opinion, and basis for opinion, as to whether applicant's record and reputation are such that “applicant will or will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety” and whether granting relief “would be contrary to public interest”.

North Carolina

§ 14-404

A permit to purchase a handgun may not be issued to:

One who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent or has been committed to any mental institution.

North Dakota

§ 62.1-02-01

A person who is or has ever been diagnosed and confined or committed to a hospital or other institution in this state or elsewhere by a court of competent jurisdiction is prohibited from purchasing a firearm or having one in possession or under control.

This limitation does not apply to a person who has not suffered from the disability for the previous three years or who has successfully petitioned for relief under § 62.1-02.01.2.

Ohio

§ 2923.125

The sheriff shall issue to the applicant a concealed handgun license if:

The applicant has not been adjudicated as a mental defective, has not been committed to any mental institution, is not under adjudication of mental incompetence, has not been found by a court to be a mentally ill person subject to court order, and is not an involuntary patient other than one who is a patient only for purposes of observation.

Oklahoma

21 Okl. Stat. § 21-1289.10

It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly transmit, transfer, sell, lend, or furnish any shotgun, rifle, or pistol to any person who is under an adjudication of mental incompetency, or to any person who is mentally deficient or of unsound mind.

21 Okl. Stat. § 21-1289.12

It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly sell, trade, give, transit, or otherwise cause the transfer of rifles, shotguns, or pistols to any individual who is mentally or emotionally unbalanced or disturbed.

21 Okl. Stat. § 1290.27

Psychological or psychiatric evidence whether petitioner is a danger to self or others.

Oregon

§ 166.250

A person commits the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm if the person knowingly possesses a firearm and:

Was found to be a person with mental illness and subject to an order that the person be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm as a result of that mental illness; or

Was committed to the Oregon Health Authority under Or. Rev. Stat. § 426.130.

Pennsylvania

18 Pa. C.S. § 6105(c)

No person shall possess a firearm if:

The person has been adjudicated as an incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care and treatment. This shall not apply to any proceeding under section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act unless the examining physician has issued a certification that inpatient care was necessary or that the person was committable.

Rhode Island

§ 11-47-6

No person who is under guardianship or treatment or confinement by virtue of being a mental incompetent, or who has been adjudicated or is under treatment or confinement as a drug addict, shall purchase, own, carry, transport, or have in his or her possession or under his or her control any firearm. Any person affected by the provision of this section, other than a person who has been pronounced criminally insane by competent medical authority, after the lapse of a period of five (5) years from the date of being pronounced cured by competent medical authority to the effect that he or she is a mentally stable person and a proper person to possess firearms, make application for the purchase of the firearm(s).

South Carolina

§ 16-23-30

It is unlawful for a person to knowingly sell, offer to sell, deliver, lease, rent, barter, exchange, or transport for sale into this State any handgun to:

A person who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent; or

A person who by order of a circuit judge or county court judge of this State has been adjudged unfit to carry or possess a firearm.

§ 44-23-1080

No patient or prisoner under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health is allowed access to firearms or dangerous weapons.

South Dakota

§ 23-7-49

A person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4) because of a commitment or adjudication that occurred in this state may petition the court of the county in which the person resides for the restoration of the right to possess or receive a firearm.

Tennessee

§ 39-17-1351

The following are eligibility requirements for obtaining a handgun carry permit and the application shall require the applicant to disclose and conform compliance with, under oath, the following information concerning the applicant and the eligibility requirements:

That the applicant has not been adjudicated as a mental defective, has not been judicially committed to or hospitalized in a mental institution, has not had a court appoint a conservator for the applicant by reason of mental illness, developmental disability or other mental incapacity, and has not, within seven years from the date of application, been found by a court to pose an immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm because of the mental illness.

Texas

Gov't Code § 411.172

A person is eligible for a license to carry a handgun if the person:

Is not a chemically dependent person; and

Is not incapable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun.

A person is incapable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun if the person:

Has been diagnosed by a licensed physician as suffering from a psychiatric disorder or condition that causes or is likely to cause substantial impairment in judgment, mood, perception, impulse control, or intellectual ability;

Suffers from a psychiatric disorder or condition that:

Is in remission but is reasonably likely to redevelop at a future time; or

Requires continuous medical treatment to avoid redevelopment.

Has been diagnosed by a licensed physician, determined by a review board or similar authority, or declared by a court to be incompetent to manage the person’s own affairs; or

Has entered in a criminal proceeding a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Utah

§ 53-5-704

The bureau may deny, suspend, or revoke a concealed firearm permit if the applicant or permit holder:

Has been or is adjudicated by a state or federal court as mentally incompetent, unless the adjudication has been withdrawn or reversed.

§ 76-10-532

Mental health evaluation to include statement regarding: 1) nature of commitment, finding, or adjudication that resulted in restriction on petitioner's ability to purchase or possess a dangerous weapon; 2) petitioner's previous and current mental health treatment; 3) petitioner's previous violent behavior, if any; 4) petitioner's current mental health medications and medication management; 5) length of time petitioner has been stable; 6) external factors that may influence petitioner's stability; 7) ability of petitioner to maintain stability with or without medication; and 8) whether the petitioner is dangerous to public safety.

Vermont

13 V.S.A. § 4825

A person who is prohibited from possessing firearms by 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4) may petition the Family Division of the Superior Court for an order that the person be relieved from the firearms disability imposed by that section.

Virginia

§ 18.2-308.1:2

It shall be unlawful for any person who has been adjudicated legally incompetent,

mentally incapacitated, or incapacitated to purchase, possess, or transport any firearm.

§ 18.2-308.1:3

It shall be unlawful for any person involuntarily admitted to a facility or ordered to mandatory outpatient treatment to purchase, possess, or transport a firearm.

Washington

§ 9.41.040

A person, whether an adult or juvenile, is guilty of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree, if the person owns, has in his or her possession, or has in his or her control any firearm:

After having previously been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity in this state or elsewhere of any serious offense.

A person, whether an adult or juvenile, is guilty of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, if the person does not qualify above for the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and the person owns, has in his or her possession or has in his or her control any firearm:

After having been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, unless his or her right to possess a firearm has been restored.

West Virginia

§ 61-7A-5

Certificate of mental health examination that supports that petitioner is competent and not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.

§ 61-7-7

No person shall possess a firearm who:

Is habitually addicted to alcohol;

Is an unlawful user of or habitually addicted to any controlled substance; or

Has been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Wisconsin

§ 941.29, § 51.20

 A person who possesses a firearm is guilty of a Class G felony if:

The person has been found not guilty of a felony in this state by reason of mental disease or defect;

The person has been found not guilty or not responsible for a crime elsewhere that would be a felony in this state by reason of insanity or mental disease, defect, or illness; or

The person has been committed for treatment (because of mental illness, drug dependency or developmental disability) and has been ordered not to possess a firearm.

Wyoming

§ 6-8-404(c)

To possess a firearm that is manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming, a person shall:

Not currently be adjudicated to be legally incompetent; and

Not have been committed to a mental institution.