Transcript: Sen. Lindsey Graham introduces bill on mental illness & gun violence

Transcript of remarks by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Reporting Improvement Act of 2013 to prevent people who are deemed mentally ill from legally purchasing a gun. The press briefing was held on March 6, 2013:

We’re trying to fix a problem that most Americans would just be astonished exists but it does.

And to the people in the Charleston area, I’ve heard your voices and let me tell you right quickly the problem that we’re trying to fix.

Alice Boland is a young lady that in 2005 threatened to kill the President and members of Congress and a police officer, and she came across the Canadian border into the United States. She had family in Beaufort, South Carolina.

They did the investigation about the threat she made, and I will not read the threats ’cause some of them are pretty tough. It resulted in her being arrested and indicted for threats against the President.

She went before a federal judge. A psychiatric evaluation was ordered. Anti-psychotic drugs were administered to make sure she was competent to stand trial. She went to an evaluation facility.

The court declared Ms. Boland legally insane and a substantial risk to others in 2005 – a federal court.

She pled not guilty by reason of insanity and was ordered to undergo commitment proceedings for long-term care, which she received.

Fast-forward to 2013. In 2013, this young lady, who’s a paranoid schizophrenic, previously pled guilty – pled not guilty for reasons of insanity threaten to kill the President of the United States, was admitted to a mental health treatment facility, found by a federal court to be a risk to herself and others, went to Walterboro, South Carolina in February of this year and legally purchased a firearm.

She submitted the background – filled out the paperwork for a background check, and according to ATF authorities in South Carolina, there was nothing illegal about her entries. She was sold the pistol.

She went to Ashley Hall, a private school in Charleston, South Carolina, presented herself at the school and used the gun, trying to kill staff members. The gun did not fire, thank God. It was a semi-automatic .22 pistol and the gun did not fire.

But she legally bought a firearm after having been in federal court and found to be dangerous to herself and others, passed a background check.

And what did we learn? That our current system has major gaps in it. And this legislation – this bipartisan – and I want to thank Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and [Sen. Mark] Pryor (D-Arkansas) and [Sen. Jeff] Flake (R-Ariz.) for helping fix this major flaw in the system.

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

There are a lot of emotion 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.

And to the people of Charleston, South Carolina, I just thank God everyday that the gun did not discharge, and I will do everything I can with my colleagues to make sure that this mistake is fixed.

And in South Carolina, there’s an effort at the state level to record all adjudications – finding someone mentally incompetent and dangerous to themselves and others – and entering that data into the federal system so people who are in that category in South Carolina at the state level cannot buy a gun. I think there’s over 14,000 that would fall in that category so we’re trying to make advancements at home to help fix this problem.


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