Mace says gun control not the answer, but GOP can't be silent on mass shootings

Rep. Nancy Mace is raising some eyebrows and making headlines for her comments on Fox News Sunday about the GOP’s response to active shooting incidents, where she told host Shannon Bream that Republicans need to do more to respond to the threat of active shooter incidents.


But while the South Carolina congresswoman argued that gun control isn’t the answer, she also called on Congress to pass background check legislation; something most 2A advocates would argue is just another ineffective gun control “solution.”

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., on Sunday bucked the majority of her Republican colleagues in Congress, calling on fellow GOP lawmakers to “no longer be silent” on gun violence and to find a middle ground on abortion rights.

“Every mass shooting, there’s just silence, and prayers are offered, Easter baskets are offered, but no real solutions,” Mace said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The GOP lawmaker said she and her children were recently near a mass shooting in South Carolina.   

“Republicans can no longer be silent on this issue. And it’s not about the Second Amendment. There are plenty of things that we can be doing besides offering prayers and silence,” Mace said.

Potential solutions could include “some sort of Amber Alert, for example, to let the community know there’s been a shooting,” she said. “Strengthening our background checks is something that the vast majority of Americans support.”

“Those kinds of common sense things are all things that every American on either side of the aisle can get behind, but yet every time there’s a mass shooting, and they’re increasing every year, every week, we don’t say anything. We want to bury our heads in the sand and hope that it goes away. But guess what? It’s not going away,” Mace said.

I agree with Mace that the response from some Republican lawmakers has been less than ideal, including Rep. Tim Burchett’s comment immediately following the shootings at the Covenant School in Nashville that “we’re not gonna fix” the problem. But while Mace’s own suggestions may be popular politically, they also wouldn’t do much at all to prevent these heinous attacks.
I’m not sure what Mace was specifically referring to when she touted “strengthening background checks” as an idea (and it wouldn’t surprise me if she were intentionally vague about what she meant), but “universal” background checks aren’t an effective tool at preventing active shooter incidents. Many of the perpetrators of these types of violent crimes, including the murderers in Louisville and Nashville, aren’t prohibited from possessing firearms to begin with, and have passed a background check and legally acquired the weapons they use to carry out their cowardly plans.

But “universal” background check laws are also not preemptive in nature. They allow for a charge (usually a misdemeanor) to be filed against someone who transfers or sells a firearm without putting the buyer through a background check first, but there’s no way to enforce the law at the point when the private transfer takes place. Even in states where the law is already in place it’s rarely if ever used, as Albuquerque TV station KRQE pointed out in 2020, a year after New Mexico’s universal background check law took effect.


In the first year since that law went into effect on July 1, 2019, court records show that no one was charged with violating the law. “We spent a lot of time, a lot of resources and a lot of money trying to enact this law that’s done absolutely nothing,” said Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace.

As the president of the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association, Sheriff Mace has been an outspoken opponent of the legislation since lawmakers proposed it in the Roundhouse. Still, when she signed it into law, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham seemed confident that even sheriffs who opposed it would get on board.

Whether they’re on board or not, there’s not much law enforcement can do to police private transfers at the time of the sale. Mace may be right about the vast majority of Americans supporting “universal” background check laws, but that doesn’t mean that they’re actually effective at reducing violent crime.

If Mace is serious about addressing mass shootings without adopting the talking points of the gun control lobby, she should drop her support for “universal background checks” and start talking up the need for the general public to say something if they’re concerned about someone’s behavior or intent. The Secret Service noted in its 2019 report on targeted school attacks that the vast majority of perpetrators signaled their intentions beforehand, and when those signals were recognized by fellow students, school staff, parents, or law enforcement, there were opportunities to intervene before a single shot was fired.


Of course, defusing those situations requires our civic institutions to treat these threats seriously, which is not always the case. Just last week a 29-year-old Illinois man who was accused of making a mass shooting threat against a music festival last summer was given probation in a domestic violence case against his own mother.

Daniel O. Susma, 29, of Algonquin, was charged in July with three counts of aggravated battery of a senior citizen, aggravated domestic battery, three counts of domestic battery and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.

A criminal complaint said that Susma on July 11 hit his mother, who was 71 years old at the time, in the face, arms and back, causing red markings and abrasions.

He also allegedly used his hands and applied pressure around the woman’s nose and mouth, impeding her breathing, the complaint said.

Susma scratched the arms of his mother and repeatedly pushed and hit her in the back, the complaint said.

He also allegedly hit the woman in the face repeatedly with his hands, causing red swollen abrasions on her face, according to the complaint.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman said after Susma’s arrest that new information was uncovered and the state was seeking to increase his bond.

Even though the state’s attorney was talking tough at the time, he still ended up allowing Susma to plead down to lesser charges and avoid any jail time.


Court records show Susma entered into a negotiated plea deal with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office on March 22 for the domestic battery case.

He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery on a senior citizen, a Class 3 felony, in exchange for the rest of his charges being dismissed.

As part of the deal, Susma was sentenced by McHenry County Judge James Cowlin to two years of probation and comply with any drug or mental health treatment recommendations.

Susma was accepted into the drug court program and will be subject to random drug screenings as part of his sentencing conditions.

A 180-day sentence in the McHenry County Jail will not be imposed as long as Susma complies with his probation, sentencing documents show.

Susma not only allegedly threatened a mass shooting at the North Coast Music Festival, he was the subject of a protective order filed against him by one of the entertainers booked for the festival. Despite all of these glaring red flags, however, when prosecutors had the chance to throw the book at Susma they instead gave him a slap on the wrist for punching his own mother in the face.

Nancy Mace is right that Republicans can’t hide their head in the sand when it comes to mass shootings or shout “Shall not be infringed” and expect that non-gun owners and independent voters are going to side with them. She’s correct that there are many things the GOP can and should be touting instead of gun bans and other infringements on our Second Amendment rights. But Mace is off-target when she includes background checks in her list of things that the GOP should be calling for, and her prescription for public safety leaves out some of the most important things we can do to prevent these types of attacks; practices that don’t require a legislative response at all, but do require us as individuals to look out for each other and for our court system to provide consequences for violent acts that are already against the law.


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