SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina AG proposes legislation to restrict gun access for mentally ill

gsmith@islandpacket.comFebruary 14, 2013 

Alice Boland

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson will announce new legislation next week addressing mental-health and gun-violence issues in response to charges against a Lady's Island woman accused of trying to fire a gun at a school in Charleston.

Wilson said in a news release that Alice Boland's ability to pass a background check to buy a gun -- despite previously pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to a federal charge of threatening to shoot then-President George W. Bush -- highlighted the need for new laws.

Last week, Boland bought a gun at a Walterboro gun shop and later went to Ashley Hall, a private girls school in downtown Charleston, where she tried to fire it at an administrator and a teacher, according to police reports. The magazine in the .22-caliber, semiautomatic Taurus was loaded with eight rounds, but the gun 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."

He said the legislation should focus on "the mental health epidemic by treating the problem, not by eroding or ignoring the Second Amendment."

He added that South Carolina is one of only six states that "has no barriers to prevent the mentally ill from purchasing a firearm."

Wilson said he will join law enforcement, legislative and mental health leaders in South Carolina to discuss specifics of the legislation at a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Statehouse in Columbia. Republican state Reps. Eddie Tallon of Spartanburg and Rick Quinn of Lexngton will sponsor the legislation, the release said.

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