Governor Bobby Jindal announced today that he will seek legislation to improve gun safety in Louisiana by enabling the state to report an individual's eligibility to purchase firearms based on mental health records to the federally administered National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database.
"Too often, both in Louisiana and in states across the nation, the mentally ill are slipping through the cracks and getting lost in the system," said Governor Jindal. "In order to protect these individuals and the communities they reside in, it is imperative that we take proactive steps to prevent them from harming either themselves or others."
Currently, the federal government operates the NICS database to prevent potential gun buyers with a criminal history or severe mental health illness from purchasing firearms.
Seventeen states already have laws that require courts to report mental health eligibility to the NICS, including AL, CT, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, NV, NY, ND, OR, TX, VA and WI.
In Louisiana, current state statute prohibits reporting mental health eligibility to the NICS database. Under Governor Jindal's proposal, Louisiana will be authorized to provide mental health eligibility to the NICS database.
No actual medical records will be shared, and the state will have the authority to request the removal of an individual from NICS should that person be deemed mentally competent by health care professionals.
"As a strong supporter of Constitutional gun rights, I fully believe that we can defend our Second Amendment right to bear arms and defend our children too," said Governor Jindal. "This proposal is a common-sense way to protect our kids, our families and our loved ones."
To enhance gun safety and mental health reporting standards in Louisiana, Governor Jindal's proposal will:
Authorize the state to confidentially share an individual's eligibility to purchase a firearm based on his or her mental health records, such as those involuntarily committed to mental health facilities, and mandate that the State Supreme Court report eligibility to the NICS, in full compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The State Supreme Court will collect and transfer eligibility status to the NICS the same way criminal data is currently reported.
Define situations where mental health eligibility must be reported and when a person would be disqualified from purchasing a firearm. This determination will be made by a court. Criteria will include whether or not a person is deemed to be a danger to himself, herself or others as a result of mental illness; whether or not a person is deemed incapable of managing his or her own affairs; whether or not a person has been found not guilty by reason of insanity or other mental disease or defect in a criminal case; whether or not a person has been found guilty but insane in a criminal case; whether or not a person has been found incompetent to stand trial; and whether or a not person has been formally and involuntarily committed to a mental institution or asylum.
Define situations when the state may request to have an individual deemed competent by health care professionals removed from the NICS database. The "relief from disabilities" provision will protect the rights of healthy, law-abiding citizens and allow Louisiana to utilize federal funding for NICS.