Ban This Dangerous Weapon Right Now Before More People Die

Ban This Dangerous Weapon Right Now Before More People Die

These are the weapon of choice for serial killers, kidnappers, and racists. The torment must end.
Patrick Fletchall
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There are dangerous weapons out there on the streets of America being used to hurt people every day. Although many people own them legally and use them responsibly, the fact is that bad people use these cold, metal killers as their tool of choice in brutal crimes.

Of course, I’m talking about vans. Whether Ford Econoline, Honda “soccer mom” mini vans, passenger vans, Baltimore police vans, or windowless Dodge vans, these vehicles are the weapon of choice for serial killers, kidnappers, and rapists. Some of the worst serial murderers in history, such as Jeffrey Dahmer, Robert Lee Yates, Ian Brady and Myra Hinsley, Charlene and Gerald Gallego, and Lonnie David Franklin all used vans as their preferred equipment.

There’s a lot of misleading rhetoric out there by pro-van lobbyists and members of the NSVA (National Street Van Association) who claim vans are a harmless hobby and an essential vehicle for keeping our streets safer. But the constant stories of atrocities in the news are unavoidable. If we are hearing about it more, then it must be happening more. More than 948 people in the United States have been killed by serial killers since 2006, which is higher than mass shootings. How many people have die before we finally institute a van ban?

Old Ideas Cannot Solve Modern Problems

I’ve heard the same old constitutional argument: “A well regulated Convoy, being necessary to the security of a free Interstate, the right of the people to keep and drive Caravans, shall not be infringed.” But you have to remember that this was written in 1791! The Founding Fathers were driving around in carriages pulled by horses; they didn’t have metal horseless death-traps that could go over 60 mph. In those days, you simply couldn’t abduct someone as easily on horseback as you can with a modern van. The widespread prevalence and speed of vans nowadays makes it that much easier for criminals to commit more crimes with greater frequency.

The fact is there are just too many vans on the road and nearly anybody can buy them with very little regulation.

The fact is there are just too many vans on the road and nearly anybody can buy them with very little regulation. At a dealership, all it takes is a driver’s license and proof of insurance to drive a van off the lot. Most disturbingly, a van can be bought and sold on Craigslist by private sellers without even the most basic background check. Due to their mobility, legally purchased vans can be stolen and end up used to commit horrific crimes. The prevalence of vans on the streets dramatically increases the likelihood a van will be used to break the law.

I’m equally tired of the pro-van argument that if everyone drove vans, the streets would be safer. These folks claim that thousands avoid death each year because vans are legal. Where is their proof? Show me the data of people who have not died because of vans. You can’t, because it doesn’t exist.

While vans are larger and supposedly safer than small cars, if all the criminals are driving vans, then the police will have to start driving bigger vans. Frankly, at this rate my child in his rear-facing seat is going to have a heart attack if we get pulled over by an armored carrier someday. We’re better off with everyone driving a Toyota Prius: it’s impossible to accelerate quickly from a crime scene, especially with any added weight.

If It Would Save One Life, It’s Worth It

The van lobby insists that this is some plot to take away all the keys to the vans. That just isn’t true. Rather, the government is going to make it impossible to buy vans or use them legally. The best way to prevent criminals from doing something illegal is to make it illegal. It’s their kryptonite! And why would a law-abiding citizen need a van? I hear people say they proudly exercise their constitutional rights by driving their vans in public for all to see, but that doesn’t calm my palpitating heart when a windowless van parks next to me at Whole Foods.

The best way to prevent criminals from doing something illegal is to make it illegal. It’s their kryptonite!

A van ban won’t stop every person bent on killing; but if banning vans can save one life, don’t we have an obligation to? Van control is inevitable, and those opposing it are politicizing a groundless and historically unprecedented fear that government would impinge their freedoms. I reject that thinking. Since its involvement, the government has improved everything from retirement (Social Security) to education (Common Core), health care (Medicare and Affordable Care Act), energy (green energy), and law enforcement (Operation Fast and Furious), to name a few. The federal government will do just as good a job with preventing van-related violence as it has with those programs.

I echo the sentiments of our Founding Fathers, who asked the question we’re all asking right now: “Why can’t we be more like Europe?” Europe doesn’t have the same problems with van-driving serial killers like we do here in the United States. Our obsession with vans is a uniquely American one, fueled by Hollywood television shows like “The A-Team” and “Scooby-Doo.”

Harvey Weinstein is right to be embarrassed of our country and pine for the civilized laws of European society. Even Rio De Janeiro has had great success controlling kidnapping and rape by banning vans. Yet, in our supposedly civilized United States, we still won’t change our laws to be like the rest of the world. We didn’t become the great nation we are today by going rogue and doing things differently.

We can no longer tolerate being fed the excuse that “vans don’t abduct people, people driving vans do.” Sign my petition here: let’s save lives and ban vans…for good.

Patrick Fletchall works in higher education. Previously, he taught high school history and philosophy in community college. A graduate of the University of Oregon in philosophy, Patrick received a master of theological studies from Boston University and master of philosophy from the University of Aberdeen. He lives in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife and son. The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of his employer.
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