State leaders to introduce bill to keep guns from some with mental illness

gsmith@islandpacket.comFebruary 14, 2013 

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson will join law enforcement, legislative and mental health leaders in announcing new legislation to be introduced by state Rep. Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, and Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, addressing mental-health and gun-violence issues.

Specifics will be discussed at a news conference at the Statehouse in Columbia at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Ten days ago, an incident at Ashley Hall -- a private school in Charleston -- highlighted the need for new laws, according to a release from Wilson's office.

That day, Alice Boland of Lady's Island, who once pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, passed a background check and legally purchased a gun at a Walterboro gun shop. She later took the gun to the girls boarding school where she pointed and fired it at an administrator and teacher, according to police reports. The magazine in Boland's .22-calber semiautomatic Taurus was loaded with eight rounds, but did not fire because there was no round in the chamber, according to police.

"Last week, the potential for another Newtown tragedy hit way too close to home," Wilson said in the release. "It would not have been prevented by restricting the rights of law abiding citizens. But it could have been prevented by communicating, identifying, treating, and prohibiting persons such as the suspect in this case from legally purchasing firearms.

"State and federal leaders must address the mental health epidemic by treating the problem, not by eroding or ignoring the Second Amendment. There is no reason for South Carolina to remain one of six states that has no barriers to prevent the mentally ill from purchasing a firearm. That is why I will continue working with legislative, law enforcement, and mental health leaders on this issue."

Follow reporter Gina Smith at twitter.com/GinaNSmith.

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