With 'Boland Bill' deadline looming, courts say they're in compliance
By Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Officials from many, but not all, county probate courts in and around the Lowcountry said they have complied with new requirements of the "Boland Bill."
The 2013 law required all county probate courts report mental health records to the State Law Enforcement Division for reporting to federal authorities for inclusion in background checks. The background checks include those done before purchasing firearms.
Berkeley, Beaufort, Colleton, Georgetown and Williamsburg county officials said Tuesday they had already submitted mental health records dating back 10 years from the day the bill was signed.
Charleston and Dorchester counties did not immediately respond to ABC News 4's requests for information.
State lawmakers passed the bill after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Alice Boland legally bought a gun at the Walterboro Gun Shop last year. The Beaufort woman then took the loaded gun and fired it at an Ashley Hall School administrator in downtown Charleston, police said.
The gun misfired.
The incident revealed South Carolina had no database for mental health records. The FBI had no way to know Boland had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2009, and should never have been allowed to buy a gun.
State lawmakers passed the Boland Bill, requiring counties to report mental health records for inclusion in a state database, which is shared with the FBI.
"It's a really nice reform in South Carolina because you had a lot of people who shouldn't be able to buy guns were buying them because there was no way to check them in instant check," former S.C. Attorney General Charlie Condon said.
Since soon after her arrest in February 2013, records show Boland has been in a federal prison hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. She received treatment in the same hospital in 2005 for what doctors diagnosed as a "mood disorder," according to court documents.
The first hospitalization came after Boland allegedly made threats against President George W. Bush and members of Congress. She pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to those charges.
"Given the length of time [in the hospital], she either isn't competent to stand trial and holding her to see if she will be competent in future," Condon said.
The former S.C. Attorney General said he had dealt with a defendant placed in a psychiatric treatment. The treatment could go on for months, if not years, he said.
"The defense would like as much time to go by as possible. It benefits the defense. Presumably the prosecutor is pushing this case, trying hard as possible to get this case to trial and is not able to because of the status of her forensic evaluation," Condon said.
But while Boland's case was still pending, its impact had already been felt across the state.
ABC News 4 also contacted SLED to confirm the county probate courts' claims of compliance, but has not heard back.