The state’s law enforcement division has received a $900,000 federal grant in order to improve the system that verifies whether an individual is prohibited from owning a gun.
The money will go into the improvement of the National Instant Criminal Background System, or NICS.
“Persons who have been adjudicated as mentally ill or committed to a mental health institution cannot legally possess a gun, nor should they be able to. This federal grant will help state, local, and federal law enforcement enforce that prohibition and make South Carolina a safer place,” stated U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles in a press release.
The grant will help SLED, court administrations, the Department of Mental Health and Probate Court Association to work together to update the state’s criminal history records system by entering individuals with court ordered mental health adjudications, according to the grant description.
“We look forward to seeing what checks and balances SLED and NCIC are able to develop. Prevention is key and hopefully this new network will give responsible sellers the information they need to prevent dangerous situations from developing. Closing avenues where mentally disturbed people get their hands on guns is a welcome step in the right direction,” said Scarlett Wilson, 9th Circuit Solicitor.
A recently passed state law requires the courts to submit 10 years of retroactive court ordered adjudications as well as all new court ordered mental adjudications.
The law was drafted and passed following a Beaufort woman’s alleged attempt to shoot a school official in Charleston this year. Legislators approved the “Boland Bill” in May.
Alice Boland, tried to fire a handgun at officials at Ashley Hall school in downtown Charleston and pulled the trigger Feb. 4, according to police. The gun didn’t go off because no round was in the chamber.
She had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of mental incompetence to threatening to kill President George W. Bush in 2005. But that plea didn’t appear in a federal background check when Boland went to buy the guy she took to Ashley Hall because South Carolina didn’t share that information.
The bill’s sponsor and co-author, state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) released this statement following the grant’s announcement:
“This is what good government looks like. When Democrats and Republicans work together for the common good, we not only can change lives, we can save them as well. The passage of this law, coupled with the funding to enforce it, will make our schools, streets, and communities much safer. This could not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the Attorney General and his staff, my colleagues in the legislature, and the courageous mothers at Ashley Hall School who fought so hard for this law. Because of this bipartisan effort, people like Alice Boland will never be able to legally purchase a firearm and put our children in danger again.”
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.