Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Parker, George. 2010 ‘Application of a Firearm Seizure Law Aimed at Dangerous Persons: Outcomes From the First Two Years.’ Psychiatric Services; 61 (5), p. 479. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. 6 May
The legal prohibition of gun ownership by persons with mental illness is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Simpson, in a 2007 review, noted that the first federal statute to prohibit gun ownership by persons with mental illness was the Gun Control Act of 1968, which permanently prohibited persons "adjudicated as a mental defective" or who had been "committed to any mental institution" from purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed firearm dealer.
The Firearm Owner's Protection Act of 1986 provided a means to regain the right to own a firearm and restated that persons who had been committed to a mental institution could not own a firearm.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, passed in 1993, required use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) by all federally licensed firearms dealers before selling a firearm to an individual. However, state participation in sending data to NICS was voluntary; only 22 states had contributed mental health data by 2007, for a total of 167,903 records, most from Virginia (81,233 records, 48% ) and Michigan (73,382 records, 44%). Fifteen states contributed fewer than 100 records each, and Indiana was not a participating state.
The Brady Act was amended in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings by the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which provided financial incentives to the states to contribute mental health records to the NICS database and financial penalties if they did not.
States may place a person in the denied persons file of the NICS Index without disclosing that the disqualification was due to a mental health issue. NICS does not request or hold any medical records or any details of an individual's mental health history.