In a new op-ed in The Hill I discuss the debate over what will stop attacks with vehicles, such as the one this week in New York City. With an attack that had been planned for over a year, the notion that you are going to be able to keep a killer like Sayfullo Saipov from renting a vehicle just isn't serious. Here is the beginning of my piece.On terrorism, we often are fighting the last war. And sometimes the supposed solutions have nothing to do with preventing future attacks. They just give the appearance that politicians are doing something.
The terror attack on Tuesday in New York City left eight dead and eleven injured after a rental truck was used to plow down people on a bike path. We are just fortunate that the killer ran into a school bus and was unable to continue his plan to hit more pedestrians
on the Brooklyn Bridge. The NYPD immediately pointed out that it had repeatedly instructed
the 148 truck rental businesses in the area on how to identify suspicious customers. But the businesses faced an impossible task. Politically correct politicians want businesses to screen for dangerous people, but those same politicians would be the first to object to anything that remotely smacks of racial profiling. Take Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-N.Y.) public address
a few hours after the attack. He avoided mentioning anything that might usefully identify such an attacker, saying only that those who target New York oppose “freedom and democracy.” He refused to mention radical Islam. And he implicitly criticized President Trump for wanting to screen people from countries where we have trouble even confirming a person’s identity. This might be only the first successful mass killing with a vehicle in the US, but it is more common in other countries. Muslims only account
for six percent of Europe’s population, but they are responsible for over 80 percent of vehicle attacks in Europe since 2000
. Twenty-four percent
of the people in the world are Muslims, but they carry out 78 percent
of the world’s vehicular terror attacks. Telling truck or car rental companies to screen for suspicious people isn’t a serious counter-terror measure. Even an explicit criminal background check wouldn't have stopped the killer, Sayfullo Saipov, from renting a car. Are rental companies supposed to succeed where these checks would fail? In any case, why stop at just rental companies? Saipov already had a car. Even if he didn’t have a car or a truck, couldn’t he buy one? Saipov just needed enough money to put down the initial deposit. It’s not as though he was planning on being around to make the payments. This guy pretty clearly wanted to commit “suicide by cop.” Flashing his pellet gun at the police, he must have known that they’d have no choice but to shoot. What happens if someone like Saipov buys a truck from a private individual? Are we going to have so-called universal background checks on private transfers of vehicles between individuals? It’d be a lot of trouble and expense, and it wouldn't save lives.
Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio’s solution to these attacks is “more police everywhere.” Police are extremely important, but they can’t guard every inch of New York City and be instantly present to stop an attack. There are just too many targets, not to mention too many crowded sidewalks and bike paths. Cuomo, De Blasio and many others even used the truck attack to push more gun control laws. Nicholas Kristof, a columnist at the New York Times, talked
about an assault weapon ban. Cuomo and De Blasio lauded
New York’s gun control laws. But with the killer planning the attack, politicians need to realize that stopping determined killers from getting weapons is an almost impossible task. The question is what do we do when we can’t stop killers from getting weapons. . . .The rest of the piece is available here