Behind every firearm-related crime is the very real face of a human being with a finger on the trigger. So when it comes to controlling gun-related crime, the most effective laws are those designed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
In South Carolina, the State Law Enforcement Division is aiming to do just that.
Since making improvements to better share state mental-health information with federal authorities in October, SLED has helped stop 55 attempted gun purchases, and has revoked 65 concealed-weapon permits involving people with mental-health issues.
SLED received $1 million from the Justice Department to improve its data-tracking of people with an involuntary commitment order, which automatically bans them from purchasing a gun or carrying one concealed.
The issue gained attention last year after a 28-year-old woman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of threatening President Bush and members of Congress in 2005. She attempted to shoot staff members at a private, all-girls school in downtown Charleston, S.C.
Alice Boland purchased the pistol three days before the incident because her mental health reports did not show up on the federal background check. Police say the only thing that kept her from firing was that she did not know how to chamber a round.
There is no foolproof way to keep guns out of the hands of determined criminals and the deranged. Not even a total ban on firearms would do that.
However, improvements in the Palmetto State’s record-sharing process will help ensure that only sane, law-abiding people walk out of a federally licensed firearms dealer with guns.