Gov Haley signs law to keep guns from mentally ill - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Gov Haley signs law to keep guns from mentally ill

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Alice Boland. Alice Boland.
Nikki Haley. Nikki Haley.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) -- Gov. Nikki Haley has signed a law designed to keep mentally ill residents from buying guns.

Spokesman Rob Godfrey said Haley signed the Boland bill on Friday. Godfrey said Thursday night that Haley would sign the bill into law, but did not say when. 

Lawmakers of both parties called it a public safety issue that does not infringe on gun rights.

The law ensures the names of residents declared mentally ill by a South Carolina court go into a federal database so a background check catches that.

It's already illegal to sell guns to someone who is mentally ill. But the lack of reporting means gun shops don't get that information.

The measure moved quickly through the Legislature after a botched shooting at Ashley Hall School in downtown Charleston drew attention to the loophole. A tragedy was averted because the woman, identified as 28-year-old Alice Boland, had loaded the gun incorrectly, police said.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson applauded the efforts of the State Legislature in getting the bill passed through the House and Senate less than 90 days after the incident.

"Eighty seven days after a near tragedy at Ashley Hall School in Charleston, the General Assembly passed one of the year's most important pieces of legislation. The ‘Ashley Hall Bill' keeps South Carolinians safe by preventing those who have been court adjudicated mentally ill from purchasing firearms, while also protecting the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners," he wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon.

One of the bill's earliest cosponsors, Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, said last month he was proud of the quick work done by the State House in passing the bill on to the Senate.

Lawmakers said Boland never should have been able to buy the gun from the shop in Walterboro because of her previous run-ins with the court system in which she was adjudicated mentally unfit.

Boland was accused of threatening the lives of the president and several members of Congress in 2005, but later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The charges were dropped four years later.

However, because the state lacks any kind of reporting mechanism, she was able to purchase the gun without a problem, officials said.

In the wake of Boland's arrest, a storied history of mental illness has shed light on her case as well as the problems with mental health in the state.

According to court records, Boland was charged once before with threatening the lives of the president and members of Congress during a moment of rage in a Canadian airport. Those charges were later dismissed after she pleaded guilty by reason of insanity.

Before that incident, records show she had problems at the College of Charleston and while she was a student there was sent to a mental health facility.

Her parents have filed a pair of multi-million-dollar lawsuits against several state agencies and hospitals for her alleged mistreatment, but none made it to court.

The bill introduced by Reps. Stavrinakis, Eddie Tallon, Rick QUinn, and Peter McCoy has a companion bill in the Senate introduced by Chip Campsen.

The incident at Ashley Hall School also attracted the attention of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who filed a background checking bill of his own.

Boland is being kept in a mental health facility in North Carolina. Her bond was set at $900,000.

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