Lindsey Graham unveils bill to limit gun sales to mental illness - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Lindsey Graham unveils bill to limit gun sales to mental illness patients

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The battle over guns in America -- what should be sold and to whom -- continued across the country on Wednesday.

In Tucson, AZ, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, along with husband Mark Kelly, showed up for a gun control rally in the supermarket parking lot where Giffords was nearly killed two years ago. They again called for universal background checks.

In Columbia and in Washington, there was more talk about new rules governing gun sales to those with histories of mental illness.

A slew of proposals from state and federal officials are all designed to put a dent in gun violence. Some of those proposals come with bipartisan support and are moving more quickly due to a scary situation that unfolded in the Lowcountry last month.

In 2009, Alice Boland pleaded innocent by reason of insanity to threatening the president and members of Congress -- that after she'd spent time in a Texas prison mental institution.

None of it was enough to stop the 28-year-old from entering the grounds of a private school in Charleston called Ashley Hall last month and trying to shoot staffers. Now there are both state and  federal bills designed to head off another scenario like the one involving Boland.

The federal measure was outlined Wednesday by Sen. Lindsey Graham.

"We have legislation that will make sure that in the future, people who find themselves in this legal category of having gone to a federal court and plead not guilty by reason of insanity, having been judged by a federal court to be dangerous to themselves and others, would no longer legally to be able to pass a background check," said Graham.

Boland bought her .22-caliber handgun from a dealer in Walterboro. A background check failed to identify her as a mental patient possibly because of a rule that allowed the government to drop charges after her guilty plea.

South Carolina is also one of a few states that does not have laws limiting people with mental illnesses from buying guns in some cases. This state is also among those that rarely if ever send mental health information to the FBI.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson called for state reforms in the wake of the Boland incident.

Graham's bill would make similar changes at the federal level.

"There are a lot of emotions around the gun violence issue, but I am hopeful this is one area where we can find tremendous bipartisan support to fix what I think is a gaping gap in our law," said Graham.

The head of the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Bill Lindsey, supports the thrust of those bills with some reservations.

"It's a slippery slope," said Lindsey. "One of the things that concerns me, I guess, when you start putting people on a list is well, the stigma of it and if I have an illness and I know that if I get put on that list that maybe I wouldn't seek treatment, that I'll just stay away, then get progressively worse. And I think that's a big concern of advocates."

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