In the wake of an incident at a Charleston private school, South Carolina’s top legal adviser on Thursday announced his support for legislation that would prevent the mentally ill from getting firearms.
Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would discuss the bill’s provisions during a news conference Tuesday morning with state Reps. Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, and Rick Quinn, R-Lexington.
Wilson said in a statement that the tragedy at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school hit “way too close to home” on Feb. 4. That’s when police said Alice Boland, 28, a Beaufort woman with a history of mental illness, pointed a loaded gun at an Ashley Hall school official and pulled the trigger. It didn’t go off because no round was in the chamber.
Boland had purchased the gun three days earlier in Walterboro and did so legally despite facing a felony charge in 2005 for threatening to kill the president. The count later was dropped after she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The attorney general said in his statement that the incident “could have been prevented by communicating, identifying, treating, and prohibiting persons such as the suspect in this case from legally purchasing firearms.”
He said South Carolina is one of six states with no barriers to stop the mentally ill from buying a firearm.
Boland, according to federal court documents, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and forcefully injected with drugs, but a court had never made the necessary ruling to prevent her from buying a gun.
“She should never have been able to purchase a gun; however, she did,” Wilson said. “That is why her story highlights the need for mental health reform, not overreaching gun control.”
Wilson’s announcement came a day after U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, told journalists that he would introduce a bill to create gun-buying barriers for people who have avoided criminal convictions by claiming insanity.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.