'Boland Bill' heads to Senate after unanimous passage

Alice Boland
Alice Boland

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The "Boland Bill," which seeks to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, has passed in the South Carolina House of Representatives, according to lawmakers.

On Wednesdsay, Charleston State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis praised his colleagues for the unanimous passing of the bill which is designed to improve reporting requirements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

Stavrinkais said, "I am so proud of my colleagues in the House for passing this critical piece of legislation. What happened at Ashley Hall sent shockwaves through everyone in the legislature and we acted as quickly as we could to fix this glaring loophole in the system. As I have said before, while we did not have the ultimate tragedy at Ashley Hall, it wasn't because the system was working. The system was broken. With the passage of this bill, no one with a criminal history of mental illness will be able to legally purchase a firearm in South Carolina. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Attorney General Alan Wilson and his staff, Speaker Harrell, and Representatives Eddie Tallon, Rick Quinn, and Peter McCoy for their hard work on this piece of legislation. But the real credit should go to the remarkable parents of Ashley Hall. They have been in Columbia almost every week lobbying for this bill and their courage and determination made all the difference in the world."

The impetus for the bill began at Ashley Hall, the private, all-girls school in downtown Charleston.  In early February, police say 28-year-old Alice Boland, a woman with documented mental health issues, tried to fire a loaded pistol at school officials.

Boland had previously faced federal charges for threatening to kill President George W. Bush, but those charges had been dismissed after she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

She is being held behind bars and is facing federal and state charges.

Stavrinakis also mentioned that it was "fitting that we passed this bill during the week of the the sixth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting where a gunman with a history of mental illness was able to pass a background check because of this very loophole."

The bill now moves onto the Senate.

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