Now that Rep. Nancy Mace has weathered the wrath of Donald Trump and defeated his preferred candidate in the Republican primary for the First Congressional District seat in South Carolina, we can turn to the general election contest between Mace and Democrat Dr. Annie Andrews.
Given her rigid position on gun control in the face of the changing national mood on this issue, Mace is highly vulnerable. Dr. Andrews, a pediatrician, has already focused her campaign on the damage guns do to children, with Uvalde being the latest example. Andrews can hammer Mace on why her views on guns are a threat to the public health of South Carolina's children, not to mention adults.
Mace has provided ample material to lose this debate with Andrews. In a May 27 press release issued after Uvalde, Mace bemoaned "our inability to find common ground" on how to prevent such massacres. But she has also said, on a campaign website, that "I believe the debate over gun control ended with the Second Amendment."
Such macho posturing makes "finding common ground" impossible. If Mace believes the Second Amendment is absolute, there is no common ground to find. Mace has precluded its very existence.
In the same press release, Mace offered other unhelpful observations (in italics): "Some have already decided to politicize this horrific event, but this is not the right approach." This is code for "don't introduce gun legislation now because it might pass. People are paying attention."
"Passing laws that only limit law-abiding gun owners won't fix the problem." But Mace and her Republican colleagues are resistant to gun laws that limit anyone, law-abiding or not.
Mace will try to convince angry voters in her district that she really does care about gun violence. However, earlier this month the House passed a sensible bill raising the age to 21 to purchase a semi-automatic rifle; banning high-capacity ammunition magazines; requiring that gun owners store their weapons more safely; banning ghost guns, and cracking down on gun trafficking. The bill passed 223-204. Only five Republicans voted for it. Mace was NOT one of them. Perhaps this was not the time "to politicize" the issue, in her words.
Mace offered her so-called solutions on June 10 when she introduced the "Secure Every School and Protect our Nation's Children Act." She advocates repurposing unspent COVID-19 funds to turn schools into forts. She wants hardened school entrances with interior and exterior video surveillance systems.
She wants perimeter fencing, duress and panic systems, emergency communications systems, metal detectors, sensor systems, emergency tip lines, and "other physical improvements to existing facilities where the primary purpose is to improve school safety."
She wants everything, that is, except making it harder for the shooters to get guns. That is a no-go for her. Nor is Mace addressing anything other than schools. Will she also suggest spending tax dollars to turn churches, mosques, and synagogues into fortresses? How about every supermarket and department store in the country? Sports stadiums? Cultural venues? The absurdity of her position is clear.
The Andrews-Mace contest can be a forum for a spirited discussion of gun reform in the post-Uvalde climate. It will give Andrews the opportunity to disabuse Mace of her simplistic view that the Second Amendment settled the gun issue. Rather, the confusing text of the Second Amendment starts the discussion. No civil liberty is unlimited in scope---not freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to a fair trial, or Fourth Amendment privacy rights. (One wonders how Mace squares privacy rights with her invasive position on abortion.)
Andrews can point Mace to the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) in which the Court ruled that an individual has a right to obtain a weapon for self-defense, such as in the home. The SCOTUS has never ruled on the legality of possessing assault weapons or large-capacity magazines, or on the freedom to carry a concealed weapon in public, or on most of the contentious questions that swirl around the extent of the Second Amendment.
In fact, the Second Amendment is largely unexplored legal territory, which will be news to Mace.
The SCOTUS will issue an opinion any day that could overturn a New York State law and add fuel to this legal fire. New York has a law that requires a citizen who wants to carry a gun outside the home to demonstrate that he or she has a "proper cause" to carry the weapon, or faces "special danger." The law is being challenged by gun owners who believe such limitations violate the Second Amendment. The Court's decision, whatever it is, will give Andrews another opening to shred Mace's indefensible and illogical position on guns.
Republicans co-opted the phrase "Right to Life" to spearhead their campaign to end a woman's right to choose. Now Democrats should co-opt the phrase "A Right to Live" in arguing for sensible gun control. Uvalde has changed the discussion, and not in Mace's favor.