, , , , , , , , , ,

David Brook, New York Times columnist

David Brook, New York Times columnist

New York Times columnist, political analyst, and all-around smart guy David Brooks rarely says anything that lacks intelligent thought, so when he makes a verbal blunder, as he did on December 16th on NBC’s Meet The Press group think session, it should be considered a national holiday for backwater bloggers like myself who make verbal blunders on a daily basis.

Two days after the murder of 26 people in Newtown, CT, David Brooks was making a point about the need for rural people to be included on the debate regarding the use of guns in our society. He said:

Brooks, defender of the innocent rural gun owner

“…it’s perceived as an attack on the lifestyle of rural people by urban people…”

Mr. Brooks then suggested that it was inappropriate for the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, to be leading the debate. Brooks stated:

“…it’s counterproductive to have him as the spokesperson for the gun law movement.”

As someone who was raised in northwestern Colorado, where blaze orange is always the Fall color, and a gun is put in your hand before a driver’s license, I would strongly disagree with Mr. Brooks and I would dispute that he is the person to choose who can be the spokesperson for laws to restrict gun ownership.

While guns are nearly idols to be worshiped in rural communities, this is not a debate about freedom of religion. Guns tend to have life ending consequences and that consequence is often borne by the person who doesn’t own the gun. Rural people don’t understand the pressures and conflicts (e.g.; road rage, etc.) that occur in more urban environments and therefore they don’t have a place in the debate of an issue that crosses the rural/urban boundaries.

Rural people usually can’t understand why anyone would live in a city and often have built their perception of city living based on news stories of mass killings, drive-by shooting, and murder-suicides. Many rural people see city life as a daily battle ground where the unarmed are targets for the armed bands of criminals who roam the city streets. The fact that millions of people live untouched by violent crime in cities everyday is beyond the belief of people who think Fox News is ‘Fair and Balanced.’

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is exactly the right person to be the spokesperson for the appropriate use and limitations of gun ownership in America. As Mayor of one of the U.S.’s biggest urban areas, Bloomberg’s view of the dynamics of cities and those who live in them is unmatched by few in America.

Brooks remark is akin to saying that only cigarette smokers should have a voice in the control and use of cigarettes, even though they can kill non-smokers. We don’t need to prove guns kill non-gun owners. Guns kill everyone, regardless of his or her gun-ownership status.

Brooks might be correct that this is a rural versus urban issue, but it is the rural citizen that already has the gun in hand and that is the wrong solution in an urban environment. It’s time urban communities were allowed to address the threat that rural values have on our cities.

Who can or cannot be part of this debate should be decided by those who face the threat, not by those who have the gun and David Brooks is not the person to make that decision for us…

….even if he is the smartest person in the room.