COLUMBIA - The chief of South Carolina's law enforcement agency says a new law meant to stop the mentally ill from buying guns has already prevented 12 people from getting a concealed weapons permit.
Chief Mark Keel told legislators Friday that the State Law Enforcement Division also has revoked 65 permits because of the law that was approved in May and went into effect Aug. 1.
The case of Alice Boland inspired the state statute and similar federal legislation. The Post and Courier uncovered her past, drawing national attention to the ordeal.
Boland showed up on Feb. 4, 2013, at Ashley Hall in Charleston, pointed a handgun at some children and pulled the trigger as a school administrator stepped in front of the muzzle, authorities said. The weapon didn't fire because no round was in the chamber, so the private school narrowly avoided a tragedy.
Boland shouldn't have been allowed to buy the gun in the first place because of her history of mental illness, people in and out of law enforcement said.
Among other charges, Boland is accused in the attempted murder of school administrator Mary Schweers. She's also charged with pointing her gun at another faculty member.
The criminal cases against her remain pending.
The Beaufort County resident, now 29, is charged with attempted murder, two counts of pointing a firearm, unlawful carrying of a firearm and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
She also faces federal counts relating to her purchase of the gun days before the incident. She had a past arrest for threatening to kill the president and was treated for schizophrenia - a history that federal authorities said made it illegal for her to buy a firearm.
Boland is in a federal prison facility in Texas that specializes in treating female inmates with mental health problems.
The new state law ensured that the names of residents declared mentally ill by a South Carolina court go into a federal database so they can be found during a background check. It was already illegal to sell guns to someone who is mentally ill, but the lack of reporting meant that gun shops didn't get that information.
The mentally ill also are barred from applying for concealed weapons permits in South Carolina.
SLED's new mental health reporting unit enters an average of about 500 names a week into the database, Keel said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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