As we continue to deal with terror attacks both at home and abroad, the conversation about how to best protect our citizens continues. Perhaps one approach to this is to take some hints from how other countries are handling the situation. The nation of Sweden recently experienced their own version of such an assault when an ISIS supporter plowed into a Stockholm crowd with a truck. Ever quick with serious solutions to pressing problems, one social commentator over there named Eva Franchell saw an opportunity to set several problems to rights in one fell swoop. I saw this story picked up at The Rebel a couple of days ago, but the original article was from Aftonbladet. (I’m relying on a Google translation here, but it’s close enough.)
Cars have turned into deadly weapons. They have been easy to steal and then nothing has been able to stop their advance.
In Nice, Berlin, Jerusalem, London and Stockholm, they have been used as effective murder machines terrorists who wanted to kill many people.
If people in the future will be protected cars must simply removed from the collection sites and city centers. It is not reasonable for a big truck can be driven right into Stockholm’s popular walking street on a Friday afternoon just before Easter. Politicians have been good at protecting themselves, but now they must also ensure citizens’ needs for secure environments.
Some of the headlines covering this story make it sound as if Eva Franchell is suggesting banning all motor vehicles entirely, but to be fair that’s not really what she’s saying. Sure, she’s no fan of engines in general and the pollution they cause, but the author at least seems to realize that we can’t do away with them entirely (yet). The actual proposal under discussion is to ban vehicular traffic in the crowded city centers which attract the most tourists and general foot traffic, at least during the busy daylight hours.
While it would be easy to make fun of this idea (and I already did so in private) I may shock you by saying that it’s not entirely unheard of and really not outside the realm of possibility. Anyone who has been to the densely packed government and historical tourist attractions in places like Philadelphia and Washington knows that big sections are blocked off to all vehicles most of the time anyway. You need to walk to get around, though they leave enough room for bikes and handicapped access in most spots.
As Franchell points out, the longer trips up to the edge of the vehicle restricted area could be handled by cabs and car service operations. The businesses which require deliveries can obtain special passes for bonded truck delivery services and even their travel could be restricted to early morning or evening hours when there are less people out and about.
Would this eliminate the possibility of terror attacks using cars and trucks? No, but it could reduce the attraction for the terrorists considerably. The big problem with crowded places such as airports (one of the most common targets) is that no matter where you draw the security perimeter (e.g. the TSA checkpoint), you’re just moving the massive soft target – that being the crowd of people – further away. But if you have shuttles running from different parking locations to an area where crowds can’t be reached by a car or truck the target profile goes down. It wouldn’t do anything about attackers using bombs or guns, but it could certainly put a dent in attempts by those forced to use vehicles.
So yes, it sounds like a silly idea on the surface, but it could actually have some merit. Something to think about anyway.