New York Times Columnist Calls for “Respect First, Then Gun Control”


New York Times
New York Times

Fayetteville, AR –-( New York Times columnist David Brooks would like it if we would listen to him. He doesn’t say as much in his article, titled, “Respect First, Then Gun Control,” but it’s clear that he enjoys the sound of his own keyboard. As I know very well, being an author means bouncing between doubt over the quality of the sentences we write and faith that those sentences need to be read, but the latter belief needs some supporting evidence to be convincing.

He tells us that “it's necessary to let people from Red America lead the way and to show respect to gun owners at all points. There has to be trust and respect first. Then we can strike a compromise on guns as guns, and not some sacred cross in the culture war.” Isn’t that exactly the kind of attitude that leads us to want to have the conversation he desires?

Perhaps not. For one thing, he may be committing the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof, seeking to push off responsibility for making the case for gun control onto his perceived opponents. If he has a case to make in favor of adding new restrictions on gun rights, he needs to make it.

Or does he mean that the people in red states—assuming that we’re a monolithic mass, of course—need to sit down with him and his fellow advocates of control and have a discussion? That may be what he means, given his comment about what would be required to achieve compromise. But what he assumes here is that compromise is a desirable end in itself, which is yet another fallacy.

Compromise is a fine thing in some situations. One person wants to go to the game, while the other wants to stay home and watch movies, so the couple ends up going to visit Mama. Oh, wait, that’s not a good example. One party wants to cut taxes, while the other party wants to raise them, so both parties compromise and borrow a trillion here and a trillion there. Actually, that’s not such a good example, either.

Yes, I’m being facetious, but only by a little bit. Compromise is a necessary evil of a democratic system, but only if we understand that some things are matters of principle. Rights are one of those. As I’ve experienced again and again in arguing with advocates of gun control, such people do not believe that gun rights even exist. In their view, owning and carrying firearms is a privilege that is either best left to the government or at most to be extended only to a select few citizens. To illustrate this point, I raise the fact that Donald Trump has a carry license, and other famous New York City residents do as well, while ordinary residents are denied as a matter of routine. When I’m asked to compromise on gun rights, these facts come immediately to mind.

There is another point that Brooks apparently hasn’t considered. His assumption that support for gun rights is a red state phenomenon, something that the right wing does, while support for gun control is a position taken by the entirety of blue states isn’t a good one. Let’s note that Vermont, the state that sends Bernie Sanders to the U.S. Senate, has never required a license to carry a concealed firearm and has the honor of being given an F in state scoring of gun laws by groups who demand stricter regulation, as in the case of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s ranking in 2016.

I’ll speak for myself here in addressing Brooks’s assumption. I’m a deep blue resident of a state that has been consistently red since the Clintons pulled up stakes for friendlier pastures. And I support gun rights. To use a saying that floats around Twitter from time to time, I stand for the right of a gay couple to defend their marijuana farm with AK-47s. Or with AR-15s. Or with standard-capacity Austrian Tupperware. What is the most irritating about Brooks’s attitude is the smug stance he takes, implicitly comparing gun owners and gun-rights supporters to the racists who supposedly can be won over if only they’ll talk to people who don’t look like them.

Gun ownership is a diverse phenomenon, and if David Brooks and others like him want to lead with respect, he and they need to understand that attacking rights is the most contemptuous thing a person can do.

About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

  • 11 thoughts on “New York Times Columnist Calls for “Respect First, Then Gun Control”

    1. There will always be a means for those that wish to carry out attacks on our way of life and inflict fear upon us. Look over at England and see how gun control has worked out for them. They have terrorists that use knives, acid and vehicles to kill and harm their victims. If we ban guns here it will only move the focus over to something else. Think of the bombs that were made of fertilizer a few years ago. Did we ban the use of fertilizer? What about the Boston marathon bombers using pressure cookers. Did we ban them from being used by the cooks here? When somebody wants to inflict harm or kill somebody they will always find a way. If we as a society ban everything that is used we will be back to the stone ages before long. No more bricks, baseball bats or knives.

    2. As usual, anything coming out of the NYT is mired in socialism remarks that mean nothing. Just think back, we use to believe what msm told us. They were lying then but not as much as now. Waste of time to read anything they put on paper or utter from their mouths.

    3. When you have an argument or flame war with a gun control activist don’t get angry, use name calling, or let phony statistics go unchallenged because someone reading or listening will then have the choice of supporting what seems like a screaming child or an adult. And never let someone use the term AR-15 without asking if they are referring to a modern sporting rifle.

      1. @Dave Brown, When you do something to prevent infringement on our Second Amendment Civil Rights, then I will gladly lavish praise and respect on you.

      2. So true, Dave! Compromise is nothing new. It is always, “Give away just a LITTLE bit more of your rights and freedoms, just this time, just once more. Don’t worry, the government will take good care of you when you are all submissive subjects.” It almost never brings anything good back to us.

    4. Compromise to gun control advocates means “You give up something, and in return, we won’t take everything. At least, not today. Tomorrow’s another story.”

      A TRUE compromise might be “OK, we’ll agree to raising the age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, and in return, you support national concealed carry reciprocity and the Hearing Protection Act. Deal? No? OK, then how about eliminating the 1986 “freeze” on full auto? Can you agree to that compromise position in return for raising the age limit?”

      Leftists will never – NEVER! – consider a true “compromise” which involves give-and-take from both sides.

    5. I wonder. Does the Times building have armed guards? What happens if the next deranged idiot decides to come visit their offices? Would they send for a guard who carries a sling shot?

    6. Oh yes, I can see all those respectful socialists/marxists/liberals after they have diminished all of our Constitutionally enumerated Civil Rights. They will use the Congressional tax power to steal what we have, and when the occasional free lance thief robs us, we will have no recourse.

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