Gun Sales and Mental Health

A state-by-state listing and some of the history behind gun laws as related to mental illness.


As of May 2006, the FBI reports that a total of 29 states rely entirely on the FBI to conduct all Brady Act-related background checks. 13 states have agencies acting in a full point of contact capacity. Full POC states designate a local or state law enforcement authority to conduct the federally required background checks within state boundaries. Eight states participate as partial point of contact states. These states have agencies that conduct checks for handguns and/or handgun permits, while the FBI processes all long gun (i.e., rifles and shotguns) transactions. 23 states report at least some mental health records to the NICS, however, the confidentiality status and nature of this information is in question. Privacy laws and lack of technical ability prevent 27 states and D.C. from sharing mental health information with the NICS. Only 11 of the 28 NICS states (full and partial) provide any of this information to the FBI.

The act initially required purchasers to wait up to five days for a background check to complete before purchasing a handgun from a federal firearms licensee. The waiting period provision of the act expired in 1998 when the NICS came online.

Currently, a handgun purchaser may have to wait for up to three business days if the background check fails to immediately approve or deny his/her application to purchase a handgun. If the denial is not issued within those three days, the transfer may be completed at that time by default. This can be problematic, as some states update databases in real time, while other states can take up to a week. With this in mind, several states have increased their waiting periods to up to ten days. This act only relates to handguns, but there are states that also require background checks for the purchase of long guns as well. Additionally, the Brady Act only applies to FFLs. It does not affect private sellers. It is estimated that 40% of all firearm transactions are through private sellers.

Table 2 State by State: Court Ordered Outpatient Treatment (AOT), Tarasoff Statutes, and Mental Health Rankings

Jurisdiction

Assisted Outpatient Treatment

State Code Sections

Tarasoff-Like Statutes As of 2002

NAMI 2006 Grades

United States

No

N/A

Specific Persons**

D

Alabama

Yes

Ala. Code § 22-52-10.4; § 22-52-10.2

No Tarasoff Like Law

D

Alaska

Yes

Alaska Stat. ; § 47.30.755(a); §47.30.915(7);§47.30.915(10)

Permission To Warn

D

Arizona

Yes

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 36-540(A);§ 36-501(5), (6), (16), (33)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary*

D+

Arkansas

Yes

Ark. Code Ann. § 20-47-207(c)

No Tarasoff Like Law

D-

California

+

Calif. Welf. & Inst. Code § 5250; § 5008(h)(1); § 5346(a)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary*

C

Colorado

Yes

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 27-10-111(1); § 27-10-102(5)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary*

U

Connecticut

No

Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 17a-498(c); § 17a-495(a)

Permission To Warn

B

Delaware

Yes

Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5001(6); tit. 16. § 5010

Duty To Warn: Discretionary*

C-

D.C.

Yes

D.C. Code Ann.§ 21-545(b)

Permission To Warn

C

Florida

Yes

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 394.467(1); § 394.4655(1)

Permission To Warn

C-

Georgia

Yes

Ga. Code Ann. § 37-3-1(9.1); § 37-3-1(12.1)

No Tarasoff Like Law

D

Hawaii

Yes

Haw. Rev. Stat.;§ 334-60.2; § 334-121; § 334-1

No Tarasoff Like Law

C

Idaho

Yes

Idaho Code § 66-329(k); § 66-317(k), (m) ; § 66-339A

Duty To Warn: Discretionary*

F

Illinois

Yes

405 Ill Comp. Stat.5/1-119

Permission To Warn

F

Indiana

Yes

Ind. Code Ann. § 12-7-2-53; § 12-7-2-96; § 12-26-7-5(a); § 12-26-14-1; § 12-26-6-8-(a);

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary

D-

Iowa

Yes

Iowa Code § 229.14; § 229.1(15)

No Tarasoff Like Law

F

Kansas

Yes

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-2946a(f)(1); § 59-2967(a)

No Tarasoff Like Law

F

Kentucky

Yes

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 202A.026; § 202A.011(2)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary*

F

Louisiana

Yes

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28:55(E)(1); § 28:2(3), (4), (10)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary*

D-

Maine

No

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 34-B, § 3864(6)(A) 34B, § 3801(4)

No Tarasoff Like Law

B-

Maryland

No

Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen. § 10-632(e)(2)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary*

C+

Massachusetts

No

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 123, § 8(a); ch. 123, § 1

Duty To Warn: Discretionary

C-

Michigan

Yes

Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 330.1401

Duty To Warn: Discretionary*

C+

Minnesota

Yes

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 253B.09(1); § 253B.02(13)(a), (17); § 253B.065(5)(b)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary

C+

Mississippi

Yes

Miss. Code Ann. § 41-21-73(4); § 41-21-61(e)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary

D

Missouri

Yes

Mo. Ann. Stat. § 632.335(4); § 632.005(9), § 632.350(5)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary

C-

Montana

Yes

Mont. Code Ann. § 53-21-126(1); § 53-21-127(7)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary*

F

Nebraska

Yes

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 83-1037; § 83-1009

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary*

D

Nevada

No

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 433A.310(1); § 433A.115

No Tarasoff Like Law

D-

New Hampshire

Yes

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann.§ 135-C:34; § 135-C:27

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary

D

New Jersey

No

N.J. Stat. Ann.§ 30:4-27.2(m), (r),(h),(i)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary

C

New Mexico

No

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 43-1-11(C); § 43-1-3(M), (N)

No Tarasoff Like Law

C-

New York

Yes

N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 9.31(c); § 9.01, § 9.60(C)

Permission To Warn

U

North Carolina

Yes

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 122C-268(j); §122C-3(11); § 122C-267(h); § 122C-263(d)(1); § 122C-271(a)

No Tarasoff Like Law

D+

North Dakota

Yes

N.D. Cent. Code § 25-03.1-07; § 25-03.1-02(12)

No Tarasoff Like Law

F

Ohio

Yes

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 5122.15(C); § 5122.01(B)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary*

B

Oklahoma

Yes

Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 43A, § 1-103(13) a. tit. 43A, § 1-103(18)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary

D

Oregon

Yes

Or. Rev. Stat. § 426.005(1)(d)

Permission To Warn

C+

Pennsylvania

Yes

50 :State w:st="on">Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 7301(A).; § 7304(f)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary

D+

Rhode Island

Yes

R.I. Gen. Laws § 40.1-5-8(j); § 40.1-5-2 (7)(i); § 40.1-5-2 (8)

Permission To Warn

C

South Carolina

Yes

S.C. Code Ann. § 44-17-580; §44-23-10(1),(2)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary

B-

South Dakota

Yes

S.D. Codified Laws § 27A-1-2; § 27A-1-1 (4), (5)

No Tarasoff Like Law

F

Tennessee

No

Tenn. Code Ann. § 33-6-501

Duty To Warn: Discretionary

C-

Texas

Yes

Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 574.034; § 574.035 § 574.034; § 574.035

Permission To Warn

C

Utah

Yes

Utah Code Ann. § 62A-15-631 (10)62A-15-602 (12) 62A-15-602 (13)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary*

D

Vermont

Yes

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, § 7611 tit. 18, § 7101(16) tit. 18, § 7101(17)

Duty To Warn: Discretionary

C-

Virginia

Yes

Va. Code Ann. § 37.2-817; § 37.2-817

Only if Involuntarily Hospitalized

D

Washington

Yes

Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 71.05.240; § 71.05.020(19); § 71.05.020(14) ; § 71.05.020(16); § 71.05.020(32)

Duty To Warn: Nondiscretionary*

D

West Virginia

Yes

W.Va. Code §27-5-4(j); 27-1-12

Permission To Warn

D

Wisconsin

Yes

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 51.20(1)(a)1; § 51.20(1)(a)2

Duty To Warn: Unclear

B-

Wyoming

Yes

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 25-10-110(j); § 25-10-101(a)(ix); § 25-10-101(a)(ii)§ 25-10-110(j)(ii)

No Tarasoff Like Law

D

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