New York Times columnist David Brooks is doing Americas gun owners the service of reminding them why they shouldn’t put any faith in opinion writers pontificating from their metropolitan ivory towers.
Brooks recently opined that America would be a much safer country if Americans would simply give up their freedoms and become more like Europe. If America wouldn’t hold onto the individual right to keep and bear arms as spelled out in the Second Amendment — and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court — he says the U.S. would be a much safer place.
In his estimation, giving up the ability for self-defense and defense of loved ones would make crime go away.
“That would take a gigantic culture shift in this country. A revamping of the way we think about privacy, a revamping of the way we think about the role government plays in protecting the common good,” Brooks said during a segment on PBS’ “Newshour.”
I think it would be something. I think it would be good not only to head off shootings, but good to live in a society where we cared more intimately about each other. And I would be willing to give up certain privacies for that to happen.
That’s certainly out of the mainstream of how the rest of America views lawful firearm ownership. There were over 21 million background checks for the sale of a firearm in 2020, the most ever in a single year. Last year, Americans submitted to 18.5 million background checks.
In 2022, background check figures are headed for the third strongest year on record. During the week up to and including Black Friday, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) tallied over 711,000 background checks, with over 192,000 on Black Friday alone. That was the third busiest day for FBI’s NICS ever.
The Plan: Give Up Your Rights
Just how would America achieve the utopia that Brooks imagines? Just give up, he said. Give up your rights. Give up your freedoms. Submit to an Orwellian state that provides you with all your needs.
The Times’ house “conservative” admits that wouldn’t be easy.
“But for many Americans that would just be a massive cultural shift to regard our community and regard our common good in more frankly a European style,” Brooks explained. “I think it would benefit our society in a whole range of areas, but it’s hard to see that kind of culture change to a society that’s been pretty individualistic for a long, long time.”
America broke away from European-style rule for a reason. The Founding Fathers rejected the British crown’s demands to give up their guns then. Based on background checks for gun sales, America continues to reject calls for strict gun control. A recent Gallup poll found that support for more gun control dropped nine points from 66 percent to 57 percent in an October survey.
Failed Civilian Disarmament
The argument that individuals should surrender their gun rights has been tried elsewhere with predictable results. Gun owners who complied with gun seizures find themselves unable to protect themselves while criminals that ignore the law are empowered. A recent report from ABC News in Australia showed that criminals find it easier now to obtain illicit firearms than before the multiple amnesty periods when government officials collected firearms from Australians.
New Zealand instituted their own gun confiscation program and…crime spiked. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ushered in draconian gun control laws, including confiscation, and the country’s crime rate hit new peaks.
Go figure. The only ones left with guns were the criminals. That’s a lesson that Canada’s grappling with now as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is eyeing his own gun confiscation scheme and banning the transfer of any handguns. Some Canadian provinces are rejecting the heavy-handed measures.
Sadly, history is replete with examples of regimes that took away its citizens firearms only to become tyrannical and turn their citizens into defenseless subjects. Those that fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
Our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence expressed their fear of a tyrannical government and enshrined our right to keep and bear arms for self defense in the Bill of Rights for a reason.
Brooks is wrong to think that ridding ourselves of our rights and lawful gun ownership would reduce crime. The answer to rampant crime is more effective law enforcement. The changes needed to safeguard America’s communities don’t begin with turning our backs on our freedoms. It starts with holding elected officials in the White House, Congress, state capitols and local district attorneys responsible for not enforcing the law and failing to hold criminals accountable.
Brooks’ notion is a devil’s bargain and Americans know it. Surrendering freedom has never resulted in anything less than creating a society of victims.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.