I was saddened to hear of the recent terrorist attacks in Spain. A terrorist drove a van into a popular Barcelona street packed with pedestrians and other members of the same terrorist cell rammed a car into a crowd in the seaside town of Cambrils. Fifteen people were ultimately killed in the attacks, many of them tourists simply enjoying a holiday.
The attacks in Spain are the latest in a trend. In the past several years, people aiming to cause death and destruction have used automobiles to perform their evil work.
In July 2016, an ISIS-inspired terrorist driving a van killed 84 people at Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France.
Last December, a terrorist drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany. Twelve people died in the attack. In April, four people died after a man drove a truck into a crowd in Stockholm, Sweden.
London alone has witnessed three vehicle attacks this year: five were killed by an Islamic extremist in a car at Westminster Bridge in March, eight pedestrians were killed by a van driven by Islamic extremists in June, and one man was killed when a van driver targeted Muslims leaving Ramadan prayers.
Just a week before the Barcelona attack, a man used his car to target soldiers in a suburb of Paris, seriously injuring three of them.
Vehicles attacks have become all too frequent in Europe, and the United States is not immune to them, either. The country recoiled in horror when an alleged white supremacist and/or neo-Nazi plowed a car into a crowd of protestors in Charlottesville in August, killing Heather Heyer.
The unfortunate fact is that when people with hate in their hearts decide they wish to harm others, they will be able to turn just about any item into weapons. The attacks in Spain were the work of a jihadist cell. The murders they committed were mainly by vehicle, but one of the terrorists stabbed an innocent man when hijacking a car, and police suspect the house they were based in was being used as a bomb factory. Clearly, they were intent on wreaking death and destruction by whatever means they could.’
The right to drive cars, trucks, vans, etc. is not protected by the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, motorized vehicles were not in existence at the writing of our great constitutional document. And even though animal-driven vehicles existed, the courts have ruled that it is a privilege to drive motorized vehicles on the roads.
There is a constitutional right to bear arms. And it is true that, just like the horrible situations discussed above, guns are often used improperly in acts of violence and/or terror.
After a horrendous act by a gun-wielding assailant, we often hear calls for the control of guns. I do not agree with these calls for gun control! But I do note with curiosity that with more and more common use of cars, vans, and trucks as weapons for violence and terror that some on the left have not started a campaign for “reasonable automobile control.” It is true that you have to be licensed to drive an automobile but some people in this country think drivers’ licenses are overly burdensome on the unlicensed population even though the penalties for driving without a license are not severe.
I am not arguing for automobile control or more severe penalties for driving without a license, but I raise the issue to highlight the double standard by some as it relates to guns.
Restrictions on cars, the constitutionally-guaranteed right to bear arms, or whatever device that might cause great destruction can sometimes seem like a simple fix, but they are more likely to diminish the rights of law-abiding people than the bad guys.
We live in a free society with rights granted by God and protections for those rights built into our Constitution. Likewise, the ability to continue to live in a free society means that we must insist on civil discourse of the important issues of the day instead of resorting to violence and acts of terror.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.