Mentally ill gun buyers protected by law - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Mentally ill gun buyers protected by law

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LADSON, SC (WCSC) -

The woman accused of bringing a loaded gun to Ashley Hall girls school on Monday was able to legally buy the weapon, despite her history of mental illness.

Charleston police said 28 year old Alice Boland tried to shoot two school officials, but couldn't get the gun to fire.

Investigators said Boland was allowed to buy the gun because she has no criminal record, and there is no record of her mental illness in the FBI database.

"The HIPAA laws make it illegal, doctor patient confidentiality," explained Arlyn Pendergast, president of ATP Gunshop in Ladson. "The only way that stuff shows up is if they do a crime. Now if they do a crime, then the police put it in there because that's not doctor patient confidentiality."

Pendergast said gun dealers have the right to say no to a potential buyer if the person appears to be mentally unstable or drunk.

"At the time at which they're buying it, if they're acting normal there's no way for us to deny it," he said.

Pendergast said Boland's gun didn't go off because she apparently didn't put the a bullet in the gun barrel first.

"According to the police report she loaded up the magazine. But she never put in the barrel to get it started. Since it didn't get started, it couldn't fire."

Pendergast said the .22 caliber pistol kills more people than any other caliber gun because shooting victims don't realize how badly they are hurt.

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