On Monday, February 4, 2013, 28 year old Alice Boland stood at the main gate of the Ashley Hall School. She pointed her Taurus PT22, a semi-automatic .22 caliber pistol loaded with eight rounds, at a school administrator and a teacher — with 50 students milling around nearby — and repeatedly pulled the trigger.
Boland has a long record of mental illness. Her mother told a judge that she had power of attorney regarding her daughter because of her mental illness. “She is considered an incompetent child,” she said.
In 2003, she was placed in the care of the Medical University of South Carolina for three weeks, where 10 doctors treated her and she received 25 different prescription medications.
In July of 2005, she was indicted for threatening the life of former President George Bush and the entire US Congress. As a result of these threats, Boland was interviewed in her home by the Secret Service and a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy, where she again made threats to kill various national political leaders. She was sent to Federal Medical Center Carswell in Texas, a prison facility for mentally ill women. Boland pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and the charges were dropped.
In August 2010 in Beaufort, Boland was arrested on a misdemeanor assault and battery charge and this was filed with State Law Enforcement Division of Records. A month later, in September of 2010 she was issued a criminal trespass notice when she stood in front of the Ashley Hall School muttering and harassing students such that her behavior caused school officials to call police.
This week, she returned and for thirty minutes paced the sidewalk in front of the school. When confronted, she reached into her red and black bag and pulled out the handgun that she had recently purchased — legally — in a local gun store. (A copy of the transaction record was found in Boland’s nearby sport utility vehicle.)
She pointed the gun, loaded with eight bullets, first at a school administrator and then at a teacher — and started repeatedly pulling the trigger. Eight people were shot.*
Every word of this story, except the last four, is true.
Thankfully, Boland had failed to load one of the eight bullets in the gun into the chamber. Thus, when she repeatedly aimed and fired, the gun just clicked.
“There’s no doubt in our minds, based on our investigation, that the woman went there to kill people,” said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.
So, let’s summarize: Boland had been treated by over 10 doctors for mental illness; she repeatedly threatened to kill the President of the United States and numerous government officials; she was in a federal prison for the mentally ill; she had been arrested for threatening children at a school; she had been interviewed by federal and county law enforcement agencies; the State Law Enforcement Division had her records; the courts had declared her mentally incompetent. And she walked into a local gun store and legally bought a gun. And then went to a school and tried to kill people.
Is there any sane person in the state of South Carolina that does not believe we need better gun laws?
Is there a politician in the state of South Carolina that has even a single measure of the political courage necessary to stand up to the NRA and propose tighter gun laws?
This time we were lucky.
Next time, when we aren’t, the blood of the innocents will be on the hands of our gutless politicians.
— Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent group started by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring change and reform in politics and government. Noble can be reached at email@example.com or www.SCNewDemocrats.org.