Should NH send some mental health records to the national background check system?

Jul 11, 2016

The New Hampshire Attorney General is interpreting state law in a way that requires courts to share information about mental illness with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Attorney General Joe Foster based his decision on a little-known amendment to this year’s Medicaid expansion bill, HB 1696.  The amendment states: “No person, organization, department, or agency shall submit the name of any person to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on the basis that the person has been adjudicated a ‘mental defective’ or has been committed to a mental institution, except pursuant to a court order issued following a hearing in which the person participated and was represented by an attorney.” Read more about this issue. 

"Should NH send some mental health records to the national background check system?"

Mental Health Data for Background Checks NH Citizen Voices Chart

Participation: 493 participants gave 1,096 responses.

A total of 83% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 17% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, the LFDA received 493 responses from 1,096 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said

No: A strong majority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 78%, opposed sending mental health records to the national background check system.

  • “There is a well-established process for depriving an individual of their rights. It's called a trial. Without that trial, depriving an individual of their rights is tyranny.”
  • “Sharing private medical records without written consent is illegal.”
  • “Unfortunately, this is a very slippery slope and the ends just don't justify the means.”

Yes: A minority, at 22% of ‘yes or no’ respondents, were in favor of sending mental health records to the national background check system.

  • “If someone is to the point where they are involuntarily committed or found incompetent to stand trial, I really don't feel that person should own a gun. They are not only a potential danger to society, but to themselves. Why take the risk?”
  • “If you skated on a crime due to a plea of insanity, you probably don't need to be given a firearm.”
  • “The three bullet points listed by the AG are very reasonable in my view.”

Other: As noted above, 17% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • Confusion over status of mental health records: “Isn’t there a violation of HIPPA here?”
  • The relationship between mental illness and violence: “Not all mental health patients are gonna go on a killing spree.”
  • Other policy suggestions: “Perhaps the government can develop a rating system for names submitted for a check. Yes, this person is deemed capable of handling gun ownership responsibly or no, we have reason to believe it is in the best interests of the people that this person be denied the ability to purchase a gun.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 


Frank Mollica
- Fitzwilliam

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 3:37pm

Do we really need to ensure that people who for whatever reason are no able
To raise suspicion, cause trouble in every way possible, or seem suicidal, and
Angry no matter how much therapy and help they get
Are able to purchase and carry a firearm?
Great if you really believe that lets go play jacks on a busy interstate highway
If im late sit down and pratice till i get there

James Carroll
- Manchester

Thu, 08/04/2016 - 3:09pm

When is the last time you remember government simply existing and fulfilling the duties it was tasked with rather than trying to involve itself in every aspect of our lives?

Related Bill

HB 1696 (2016)
Bill Status: Signed by Governor

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