BJS periodically collects data on pregnancy at admission and maternal health services received since admission in its Survey of Prison Inmates and Survey of Inmates in Local Jails. BJS released a prison and jail report on this topic. BJS also publishes an annual report based on data collected from the Federal Bureau of Prisons under the First Step Act. Additionally, BJS conducted a study to assess the feasibility of collecting maternal health data at the state, federal, local, and tribal levels and released a report.
BJS does not hold copyrights on the suggested information; it may be freely distributed, copied, or reprinted. We encourage the appropriate citation: The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. If the data were acquired from a published report, please provide the report title, NCJ number, and release date. If acquired from the website, please provide the correct URL: https://bjs.ojp.gov/.
When national estimates are derived from a sample, as with the NCVS, caution must be used when comparing one estimate to another estimate or when comparing estimates over time. Although one estimate may be larger than another, estimates based on a sample have some degree of sampling error. The sampling error of an estimate depends on several factors, including the amount of variation in the responses and the size of the sample. When the sampling error around an estimate is taken into account, the estimates that appear different may not be statistically different.
One measure of the sampling error associated with an estimate is the standard error. The standard error can vary from one estimate to the next. Generally, an estimate with a small standard error provides a more reliable approximation of the true value than an estimate with a large standard error. Estimates with relatively large standard errors are associated with less precision and reliability and should be interpreted with caution.
Data users can use the estimates and the standard errors of the estimates provided in NCVS reports to generate a confidence interval around the estimate as a measure of the margin of error. A confidence interval around the estimate can be generated by multiplying the standard errors by ±1.96 (the t-score of a normal, two-tailed distribution that excludes 2.5% at either end of the distribution). Therefore, the 95% confidence interval around an estimate is the estimate ± (the standard error X 1.96). In other words, if different samples using the same procedures were taken from the U.S. population, 95% of the time the estimate would fall within that confidence interval. See the NCVS Methodology for an example.
These data are archived with the rest of the arrest-related and custody deaths collected from federal agencies at the National Archives of Criminal Justice Data.
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (NIAA), Pub. L. 110-180, was signed into law by the President on January 8, 2008. The NIAA amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 ("the Brady Act") (Pub. L. 103-159), under which the Attorney General established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact the NICS before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person for information on whether the proposed transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The NIAA was a bipartisan effort to strengthen the NICS by increasing the quantity and quality of relevant records accessible to the system.
The NIAA was enacted in the wake of the April 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech shooter was able to purchase firearms from an FFL because information about his prohibiting mental health history was not available to the NICS and the system was therefore unable to deny the transfer of the firearms used in the shootings. The NICS is a critical tool in keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons, but it is only as effective as the information entered into the databases upon which it relies. The NIAA seeks to address the gap in information available to NICS about such prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments and other prohibiting backgrounds. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms.
The NICS is a national system that checks available records in three databases to determine if prospective transferees are disqualified from receiving firearms. It is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A NICS check includes a check of the following three databases that are maintained by the FBI:
- Interstate Identification Index (III), a database of criminal history record information,
- National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which includes information on persons subject to civil protection orders and arrest warrants
- NICS Indices, which includes the information contributed by federal and state agencies identifying persons prohibited from possessing firearms who are not included in the III or NCIC, such as persons with a prohibiting mental health history or who are illegal or unlawful aliens.
When the transferee is not a U.S. citizen, a separate query is run to confirm the transferee's immigration status. If a NICS check identifies a person as falling within a prohibited category, the FBI advises the FFL that the transfer is "denied." Individuals can appeal denials and seek correction of information in the FBI databases by either applying to the FBI or the federal or state agency that contributed the information to the FBI.
The Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, 18 U.S.C. 921, et seq., establishes the following categories of persons who are prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm: Any person pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g) or (n) who—
- has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
- is a fugitive from justice
- is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
- has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution
- is an illegal or unlawful alien or a non-immigrant alien (with certain exceptions)
- has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
- having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship
- is subject to a domestic violence protection order that meets certain requirements
- has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- is under indictment for or has been charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Section 922(g)(4), Title 18, United States Code, prohibits the receipt or possession of firearms by an individual who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective" or "committed to a mental institution." Regulations issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, define these terms as follows:
Adjudicated as a mental defective.
(1) A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease—
- is a danger to himself or to others
- lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.
(2) The term shall include —
- a finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case
- those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility pursuant to articles 50a and 72b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 850a, 876b.
Committed to a mental institution. A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily and a commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution.
No. The NICS does not maintain a database of medical records or information on mental health diagnoses or treatment plans. When a record of a person prohibited from possessing a firearm as a result of mental health issues (i.e., a person who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or adjudicated a "mental defective" by a court, board, or other lawful authority) is entered in the NICS Indices, the entry contains only a name, other biographic identifiers (e.g., date of birth), and codes for the submitting entity and prohibited category. The NICS Indices does not contain medical records or medical information.