Sen. Lindsey Graham said this afternoon that a person who pleads not guilty by reason of insanity should not be able to get a gun -- no matter the outcome of the case.
Graham used the story of Alice Boland, the 28-year-old Beaufort woman charged with attempted murder in a Feb. 4 incident at Ashley Hall school, to call for the enforcement of laws already on the books and for courts to follow through with criminal prosecution.
In a news conference in Washington, the South Carolina senator expressed astonishment that Boland managed to purchase a .22-caliber pistol legally in spite of having been charged with threatening to kill the president in 2005.
The charge eventually was dropped after Boland was forcefully treated for schizophrenia and injected with anti-psychotic medications at a federal prison facility.
Echoing similar statements by Republicans in the weeks since the killings of elementary schoolchildren and teachers in Connecticut, the senator said current laws simply need to be enforced or adjusted to prevent people like Boland from buying firearms.
Boland was allowed to purchase a gun because a court had never deemed her “mentally defective,” and no record of involuntarily committal would have appeared on a background check when she applied to buy the Taurus PT22.
“Clearly, the current system needs to be reformed,” Graham said. “Alice Boland getting a gun is a failure of the current system.”
Boland remains in Charleston County’s jail.
She is accused of driving to the downtown Charleston school, pointing the pistol at an official and pulling the trigger. The weapon was loaded, but it didn’t fire because no cartridge was in the chamber, authorities said.
The gun is equipped with a built-in locking mechanism, but it was not engaged at the time, the police said. It was fully functional.
Boland also is charged with pointing the gun at a teacher, along with other firearms violations. Witnesses said that after aiming at the school officials, Boland pointed the gun toward the ground and squeezed the trigger in attempts to fire it; she thought it was defective.
Reached by telephone Wednesday, her mother, Dellann Boland said “wow” when she learned that Graham had addressed her daughter’s case.
But Dellann Boland said she had been instructed by her daughter’s public defender to not speak publicly about the case. Earlier this week, the mother described the family’s long struggle to obtain proper care for the suspect.
“I’m not making any comments about this right now,” Dellann Boland said.
Lauren Sausser of The Post and Courier contributed to this report. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.