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Ann Marie T. Sullivan, M.D., Acting Commissioner
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Certificate of Relief Pertaining to Firearm Possession
Frequently Asked Questions

General questions:

  1. What is the NICS database?
  2. Who is identified in the NICS system?
  3. Can an individual contest his/her inclusion in the NICS database?
  4. How do I contact OMH if I have been disqualified from possessing a firearm based on my hospitalization?
  5. What is the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities relating to Firearm Possession?
  6. How do I apply for the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
  7. What documentation must be submitted to be considered for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?
  8. How do I obtain a copy of criminal history information?
  9. Will I be required to undergo a clinical evaluation and risk assessment?
  10. Does the granting of a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities automatically qualify a person to purchase a firearm?
  11. If the application for Certificate of Relief from Disabilities is denied, can the applicant re-apply?

For Law Enforcement:

  1. How does a law enforcement official contact OMH regarding firearm possession?
  2. What if a disqualified applicant contests his/her inclusion in the NICS database?
  3. Will OMH provide verification for an individual contesting his/her inclusion in the NICS database?
  4. What information do I have to provide to OMH for the verification process?

Additional Resources:

  1. Where can I find additional information on NICS?
  2. What if I have questions about the application process?

General Questions:

  1. What is the NICS database?

    The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was established by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Act) of 1993, Public Law 103-159. Pursuant to this law, Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) must contact the NICS system to obtain immediate information with respect to whether a firearm can be transferred to an unlicensed person, or whether doing so would be in violation of Section 922 (g) or (n) of Title 18, United States Code, or state law.

  2. Who is identified in the NICS system?

    The NICS Index contains records provided by local, state, and federal agencies about persons prohibited from receiving firearms under federal law. All records in the NICS Index are considered to be “federally disqualifying records” and will prohibit the transfer of a firearm. Among the records in the NICS system are those including the names of individuals who have been adjudicated as having a mental disability or committed to a mental institution. These terms include an involuntary commitment to a mental institution and commitment for other reasons, such as drug use (please note that involuntary commitment for substance abuse treatment is currently not authorized under New York State Law)

  3. Can an individual contest his/her inclusion in the NICS database?

    Yes. You may contact OMH if you have been identified in the NICS system as having an involuntary hospitalization in New York, and you believe that this is factually incorrect. To contest your inclusion based on factual error, contact the OMH Help Desk at (518) 474-5554.

  4. How do I contact OMH to initiate the certificate of relief application process if I have been disqualified from possessing a firearm based on my hospitalization?

    If you have been disqualified for firearm possession based on an involuntary admission to a hospital in New York State, you must contact the NICS Appeals Office, Office of Central Files, Office of Mental Health via mail at 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, New York 12209, via e-mail, or via telephone at (518) 474-5554.

  5. What is the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities relating to Firearm Possession?

    New York State Mental Hygiene Law Section 7.09(j) gives the Commissioner of Mental Health the power to permit a person who has been disqualified from possessing a firearm based on an involuntary hospitalization in New York State to petition for relief from that civil rights disability. If a certificate of relief from disabilities is issued, then the disqualification from possessing a firearm based on an involuntary hospitalization in New York will be removed from the NICS database.

  6. How do I apply for the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

    To apply for the certificate of relief, you must complete the application (PDF) and submit it to OMH along with all other required documentation. All documentation must be sent via mail. Incomplete applications cannot be considered.

  7. What documentation must be submitted to be considered for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities?

    Along with the application (PDF), the applicant for a certificate of relief must also provide the following required documentation.

  8. How do I obtain a copy of criminal history information?

    To obtain a certified copy of your New York State criminal history information, you must contact DCJS Record Review Unit at (518) 485-7675 or write to the address listed below to request the necessary forms:

    New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
    Criminal History Bureau
    Record Review Unit – 5th Floor
    4 Tower Place
    Albany, New York 12203-3764
    (518) 485-7675

    To obtain a certified copy of your criminal history information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation please visit the following website: www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm. Leaving OMH site

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation will require a signed cover letter, provided by the FBI, along with proof of identity (set of fingerprints) and payment to be sent to:

    FBI CJIS Division - Record Request
    1000 Custer Hollow Road
    Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306.

    You must allow approximately 16-18 weeks for processing, upon receipt by the FBI. Either a no record response or a FBI Identification Record will be mailed to you.

  9. Will I be required to undergo a clinical evaluation and risk assessment?

    OMH reserves the right to request that the applicant undergo a clinical evaluation and risk assessment as determined by the Commissioner or his/her designee. The NICS Appeals Officer will contact the applicant if a clinical evaluation is required. If it is required, the applicant must have the examination completed within 90 days from the date that the request for the Certificate of Relief was submitted to OMH.

  10. Does the granting of a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities automatically qualify a person to purchase a firearm?

    No. A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities issued by OMH does not automatically qualify you to purchase or possess a firearm. The Certificate of Relief will only remove the disability based on your psychiatric hospitalization in New York State.

  11. If the application for Certificate of Relief from Disabilities is denied, can the applicant re-apply?

    Yes. However, if you are denied you may not apply again for a certificate of relief until one year after the date that the written determination of denial is issued.

For Law Enforcement:

  1. How does a law enforcement official contact OMH regarding firearm possession?

    Law enforcement agencies seeking verification of the identity of an individual identified in the NICS system must contact the OMH Help Desk at (518) 474-5554. The call will be forwarded to a representative of the NICS Appeals Office who will attempt to verify the identity of the individual in the NICS system by contacting the state psychiatric facility identified in the NICS system.

  2. What if a disqualified applicant contests his/her inclusion in the NICS database?

    The individual should be directed to contact the OMH Help Desk. A representative will assist the caller in verifying if any episode of involuntary care occurred at a psychiatric center in New York State.

  3. Will OMH provide verification for an individual contesting his/her inclusion in the NICS database?

    OMH will notify NICS if the NICS Appeals Officer determines that the individual in question was improperly identified by the NICS system.

    OMH will advise the individual in question that he/she may apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities if it determines that the individual in question did have an episode of involuntary care in New York.

  4. What information do I have to provide to OMH for the verification process?

    You should provide your full name and a copy of your social security card, birth certificate, and drivers license. Please do not send original documents.

Additional Resources:

  1. Where can I find additional information on NICS?

    From this website, you can obtain a copy of the specific laws and OMH regulations that govern the OMH Certificate of Relief from Disabilities process.

  2. What if I have questions about the application process?

    Questions or comments related to OMH Certificate of Relief from Disabilities process can be directed to the NICS Appeals Officer by e-mail or by phone at (518) 474-5554.