Media Center



AB 424/SB 216 Would Allow Wisconsin To Share Information With The Federal Government, For The Sole Purpose of Conducting a Firearms Background Check, About Court Adjudications Enjoining Individuals From Possessing Firearms


MADISON - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen sent a memo to members of the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee today indicating his support for Assembly Bill 424 and Senate Bill 216. The committee held a public hearing on AB 424 this morning. The bill would allow the Department of Justice to share information with the federal government about court adjudications that enjoin individuals from possessing firearms in cases of involuntary commitment or court-ordered protective placement.


Under current law, certain involuntary commitments make it unlawful under federal and/or state law for the committed individual to possess a firearm. Though the Department of Justice receives information from courts where state law prohibits the committed individual from possessing firearms for the purpose of conducting a firearms background check through the handgun hotline, current law prohibits the Department of Justice from sharing that information with the National Instant Firearms Background Checks System (NICS), which is operated by the federal government. Firearms background checks for handgun purchases through a licensed Wisconsin dealer are conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, querying the state database as well as NICS. Background checks on long-gun purchases from licensed Wisconsin dealers, however, are conducted by the federal government by querying NICS. Just as Wisconsin relies on NICS for relevant firearms background check information relating to out-of-state adjudications, other states rely on NICS to determine whether there is a legal disability arising from any other state (including Wisconsin) or federal adjudication that would prevent a gun sale.


This legislation would permit the Wisconsin Department of Justice to share essential information with NICS for the sole purpose of conducting a firearms background check. This would ensure that other states and the federal government have the information about involuntary commitments necessary to notify licensed gun dealers that a transaction is not permitted.


Gun dealers are not notified of the reasons why a transaction has not been approved.


A copy of Attorney General Van Hollen"s letter is attached here.