Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action
On December 19, 2019, AmmoLand News broke the news that the FBI was using a form called the “NICS Indices Self-Submission Form.” The form would allow an American to add themselves to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as a prohibited person without meeting the requirements for the designation. Now a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Gun Owners of America (GOA) shared with the Washington Examiner shows that the FBI had partnered with hospitals to get patients to sign away their gun rights.
“Any time you have evidence of private entities coordinating with federal agents to strip Americans of their rights, the public should be alarmed and demanding answers and action,” Aidan Johnston, federal affairs director for GOA, told AmmoLand News. “This is just the latest terrifying new instance of the illegal NICS self-submission form being used in nefarious ways, and those who used it to violate the public’s trust must be held to account.”
Medical facilities in New Hampshire, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma used the FBI-supplied forms to have patients sign away their firearms rights between 2011 and 2019. The American citizens would sign the document stating that they are a danger to themselves or others. Many gun rights advocates worry that these Americans could have been pressured into giving up their rights or misled about what they were signing, especially since most were seeking mental counseling.
At least five cases of the forms being used were found in the FOIA response, although the actual number could be much higher. The FBI discontinued the use of the documents in 2019 once the AmmoLand News story broke. At the time, the evidence showed the forms were only in use for three years. The new FOIA response from the FBI indicates that the documents were in use for at least eight years and possibly longer.
One person who signed the form claiming “to be a danger to myself or others” was not involuntarily committed or adjudicated to be mentally defective. The person did not fall in the “prohibited” category of the NICS indices until the person signed away their rights.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) sets the ground rules for adding a person to the NICS indices. Still, it does not include a method for someone to add themselves voluntarily to the index causing many legal experts to worry that the forms were not a legal method to be added to the prohibited list. This worry means many on the list might have been added illegally by the FBI.
The patients in question were judged not to have the mental capabilities to own a gun but were mentally sound enough to sign a life-altering document. To many, including those in Congress, that is a contradiction. Last November, Rep Andrew Clyde (R-GA) introduce a resolution demanding the Justice Department turn over records about the use of the form. Democrats in Congress blocked the bill.
The medical facilities listed in the documents that responded to AmmoLand’s request for comment refused to turn over any details, citing patient confidentiality.