A Lady's Island woman was indicted on federal charges Wednesday that she lied to buy a gun she allegedly took to a Charleston school, but questions remain on how she passed a background check.
One question about how a Lady's Island woman with a documented history of mental illness was able to legally buy a gun might have been answered Wednesday.
Alice Boland, 28, was indicted on federal charges that she lied on a federal form that all potential purchasers must complete before buying a gun from a store.
She later took the .22-caliber, semiautomatic Taurus to a school in Charleston and pointed it at school leaders before she was arrested, police say.
U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles announced that a federal grand jury in Charleston charged Boland with giving a false statement to purchase a firearm, possession of a firearm in a school zone and attempted discharge of a firearm in a school zone.
It also charged her with illegally possessing a firearm because she once was committed to a mental institution or "had been adjudicated as mentally incompetent."
Collectively, the counts could mean as many as 30 years in prison for Boland, who is to be arraigned March 27 in U.S. District Court. She also faces state charges.
On Feb. 4, Boland took her newly purchased handgun to Ashley Hall, a girls school in Charleston, aimed it at two school leaders and began pulling the trigger as school children stood nearby, police say. The gun was loaded but did not fire because there was no round in the chamber, police say.
Still unclear is how Boland passed a federal background check, which should have halted the sale no matter what Boland indicated on the federal form. Gun store owners must enter all potential gun buyers into a federal database to ensure they are not prohibited from purchasing a gun.The database did not include 2005 and 2009 federal court records that show Boland was forcefully treated for schizophrenia after she threatened to kill President George W. Bush and members of Congress. It also did not show she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said federal law is not clear on whether such federal court records must be passed along for inclusion in the database. The result is the series of agencies and offices that handle court records do not always send them to the federal level for inclusion in the gun database.
It's still unknown which office or agency dropped the ball in Boland's case.
Graham has introduced a bill requiring the inclusion of court records of people who have pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity or mental disease.
"Our legislation is going to make it absolutely explicit that those records must be in the database," Kevin Bishop, Graham's spokesman, said Wednesday.
A group of Ashley Hall parents is working at the state level to pass a bill requiring state courts to submit mental health records into the gun database.
"This is turning out to be a case not of 'who's to blame' but a case of 'no system to begin with' to keep this kind of thing from happening," Ashley Hall parent Anna Murray said.
Nettles' office is not answering questions about why the federal database did not include Boland's court records, citing the ongoing investigation, nor will it say why the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said last month that Boland truthfully filled out the form.
- Sen. Graham bill would keep guns from mentally ill, March 6, 2013
- Beaufort woman accused of attempted murder won't face federal gun charges, Feb. 8, 2013
- State leaders to introduce bill to keep guns from some with mental illness, Feb. 14, 2013
- Longtime Beaufort tennis player charged with attempted murder, Feb. 5, 2013