New York Times columnist thinks we should be more like Europe

New York Times columnist thinks we should be more like Europe
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The United States is very different than Europe. There are vast gulfs between us, even if we are all generally high-income nations. In fact, that one similarity is rather superficial compared to the significant differences between even us and the United Kingdom, which we broke off from nearly 250 years ago.

But for David Brooks of the New York Times, well, those differences just don’t exist save for one. Gun control.

And on that, we should totally be more like Europe.

While discussing red flag laws and enacting more strict gun control policies, Brooks said he would be willing to give up some personal freedoms for what he hopes would be a more safe society.

“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 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,” Brooks said. “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. 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.”

Of course, Brooks is just one of the legions that seem to think Europe is somehow superior to the United States.

Now, obviously, I’m biased in favor of the US, but it always annoys me anytime I see an American try to say we should be more like Europe.

First, most people here don’t understand Europe all that much in the first place. Let’s remember that Europe is a continent and has a broad range of history and ideas. This Europe that he talks about people caring more intimately about each other was also the location of attempted genocide in the Balkans not all that long ago.

Yep. That’s some weapons-grade caring, ain’t it?

But what about gun control itself? After all, Europe doesn’t have the problem with mass shootings and violent crime we do, so maybe there’s something to the idea.

That would be wonderful were it not for a few facts, including the fact that even removing the guns, the American homicide rate would still be higher than Europe’s. Why is that? Well, it’s hard to say, in part because the research into homicides generally is too focused on the weapon used in an effort to also push gun control that they never really figure out what causes violent crime in the first place.

However, there are a lot of factors that may play a role. Income, education, and various cultural issues are all leading candidates for driving forces behind violent crime, though I suspect there’s a combination of all of them at work.

Regardless, Europe has a different set of issues than the United States. They’re also generally not bordered by a near-failed state like Mexico that seemingly enjoys serving as a pipeline for drugs and other illicit goods to enter the United States.

The truth is that while Brooks can pine away wishing we were more like Europe, the reality is that even if we all wanted that to happen, it couldn’t, so he should probably get used to disappointment.