Brooks right on gay marriage, wrong on guns

I applaud David Brooks’ recent column (Herald, April 3) for denouncing the vociferous demands by many Americans for unlimited massive individual freedoms that have the effect of eroding our social fabric.

He states that he supports same-sex marriage as a “victory for the good life, which is about living in a society that induces you to narrow your choices and embrace your obligations.” Brooks also wistfully hopes that these societal responsibilities may someday apply to the “unseemly CEO salaries.” Right on, Mr. Brooks.

Unfortunately, in his previous column (Herald, March 27), he does not extend this need for social obligation to gun owners who oppose sensible gun-control regulation. He states that new regulations banning the sale and possession of military-style assault weapons would have little or no effect on the frequency of mass killings in America.

He is wrong. Of course, making it illegal to buy these weapons will not prevent more gun massacres. But it certainly would lower the frequency of these tragic events, acting as a deterrent and throwing roadblocks in the paths of future mass murderers.

Nowhere in the Constitution is license given for private citizens to own guns intended for 21st-century military combat. If an assault-weapons ban saves only one child, it is worth it.

As Brooks quotes Alexis de Toqueville, “If people are left perfectly free to pursue their individual desires, they will discover their desires are unlimited and unquenchable. They’ll turn inward and become self-absorbed ...You’ll end up with more loneliness and less community.” Brooks quotes others who believe that “being virtuous means maintaining a balance between liberty and restraint.”

Or, in this case, the right of our children to live free from the fear of gun violence trumps the liberty of citizens to own weapons that have the capacity to murder 20 of them in five minutes.

Mary Benson