Parents ask for legislation after Alice Boland incident

By Valencia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The mix of guns and mental illness became personal for Ashley Hall parents when Alice Boland allegedly pointed a gun at students and teachers and pulled the trigger several times.

Now, parents have put their concerns on paper in the hope of changing the way South Carolina records mental illness.

Police have charged Boland with attempted murder and say the incident wasn't her first. In 2005, Boland was indicted for threatening to kill President George W. Bush, members of Congress and law enforcement agents.

"Day after day, [I] just got more shocked at her mental incompetence, her issues, her family's issues," said Michel Faliero. "[It showed] just how very glaringly obvious it was that this woman is not someone that should ever have been able to buy a gun."

Faliero is one of 56 Ashley Hall parents who signed off on a letter asking the state to take part in the National Instant Criminal Background Check, where the state would be required to report serious mental health issues.{}

"It's not right or left, Democrat or Republican -- it's pretty simple," said Anna Murray. "It's pretty straight forward and it's pretty easy to get people to agree that South Carolina ought to participate and ought to provide the federal government with this information."

The letter was sent to 12 city and state leaders, as well as members of the U.S. House and Senate.

So far, Faliero says Paul Thurmond is the only person to respond to their letter.

But there are bills being written at the state and federal level addressing the Boland case.

On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham used the incident at Ashley Hall and President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to talk about the failures of existing gun laws. He called the existing laws broken if Alice Boland, a woman who had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, could legally purchase a gun.

Records show Boland purchased the gun on Feb. 1, a few days before showing up at Ashley Hall. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigated the purchase briefly before announcing that the purchase was legal and that the agency would not be filing federal charges against Boland.

On Thursday, two state representatives announced they were cosponsoring a bill to be introduced on Feb. 19 that was in direct response to the Boland situation. One of the sponsors, Eddie Tallon, said the bill was focused on mental health issues and finding a way to prevent people with a history of mental issues from being able to purchase a gun.

"I think we all had a wake up call last week at Ashley Hall," Tallon said.

Boland is still being held in the Al Cannon Detention Center on a $900,000 bond. Her next court appearance is slated for Feb. 28 at 2 p.m.