'Near-Miss' at Charleston School Prompts New Bill

Lawmakers to file reporting bill

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By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- Attorney General Alan Wilson says this is not a gun restriction bill. No one is trying to take away anyone's constitutional rights. Instead, he says, this legislation is to enforce gun laws already on the books before a near-miss incident in Charleston becomes a reality statewide.

Had a reporting bill been in place in South Carolina, says Wilson, it would have sent up a red flag when Alice Boland, a woman with a documented history of mental illness, purchased a gun. That was just days before she reportedly brandished a .22 caliber at a Charleston school and pulled the trigger.

The gun didn't fire.

Three Charleston women, whose children attend that school, joined lawmakers at the State House to discuss the bill.

"As I watched her, the kids were ushered inside and I noticed she had a gun. It was a frightening moment," said Catherine Poston.

Because South Carolina is one of 12 states that doesn't currently report a prospective gun owner's mental health information to federal authorities, there was no way for the gun dealer to do a cross reference with a federal database to know about Boland's mental illness. The 28-year-old fell through the cracks.

Wilson and other lawmakers claim the reporting bill would close that loophole.

"The bill would give SLED the ability to report the names of those who have been proven in court to be mentally ill and report that name to the federal database," said Wilson.

"There's a flaw in our system. Fortunately we have discovered this flaw through a near tragedy and not a catastrophic tragedy. It's our responsibility to take action," said Republican State Senator Greg Hembree, Horry.

"We don't need to wait for the gun to work one day before we finally take this step," said Democratic State Representative Leon Stavrinakis, Charleston.

The House plans to file the reporting bill this week, with the Senate following soon thereafter.



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