Americans hoping that a recent spate of high-profile carjackings might have helped to wake up the political class seem likely to be disappointed for a while. Shocked by the news that a number of his colleagues had themselves been victims, the Democrats’ U.S. Senate Whip, Dick Durbin of Illinois, recently issued a bizarre statement in which he suggested that the government had an obligation to deal with the problem, but then he ignored or rejected any of the public policies that might help it do just that. “We cannot incarcerate our way out of the problem,” Durbin said. “One important step may involve the auto industry, to collaborate with law enforcement on steps that will deter would-be carjackers.”
Really? That’s Sen. Durbin’s idea? He wants to have the victims of these crimes protect themselves by buying a brand-new car—a magical, anti-carjacking car that doesn’t actually exist yet—instead of, say, buying and carrying a gun? Durbin’s idea is not a plan. It is a fantasy, a distraction and a dodge born of an obsessive desire to avoid acknowledging the Second Amendment. At times, even politicians have changed their views after they, or those close to them, have been mugged by reality. Alas, these recent carjackings don’t appear to have taught Durbin anything yet.
In his heart of hearts, Durbin must understand that the sort of people who, in his own words, are willing to “stick a gun in your face and force you to get out so they can steal the car” are far, far more likely to be deterred by the fear that you are carrying a weapon than by the prospect of some subtle changes to the design of cars five or 10 years hence.
And, in his heart of hearts, Durbin must know that, while it is not the only solution to the problem, the willingness to incarcerate the people who commit heinous crimes is a key part of our civilization. Years of experience in crime, punishment and human nature has taught us that strong policing prevents violent crime, that locking criminals up (after a fair trial) prevents violent crime and that, especially in the absence of either of those, the presence of a well-armed citizenry prevents and discourages violent crime. If he is genuinely concerned about the rise in carjackings, the best thing that Sen. Durbin and others can do is to make it as easy as possible for the law-abiding citizens among us to carry the tools with which to defend ourselves from the threat.
“I saw the gun and I thought he was going to shoot me and take the car, so I retaliated as fast as I could,” said a Philadelphia-area gun owner who used his firearm to defend his life from a carjacker in January. “Just to see another day, I had to shoot the guy.” Sadly, his story is becoming a more common one. It’s what happened in Bowie, Maryland, in February, when a 38-year-old man fought off four teenage carjackers with his pistol. It’s what happened in St. Louis, Missouri, late last year when a 37-year-old woman pulled a gun on a pair of armed teens trying to steal her vehicle. It’s what happened in Pennsylvania in January when a Lyft driver shot two suspects—one of whom had a shotgun—who rear-ended him and then tried to take his car.
It will happen again. In recent months, carjackings have become so common that many news outlets have created sections of their websites dedicated to reporting on them. As this was being written in April, the Associated Press’ page had 31 entries for 2022. Preventing the issue from ballooning further will take resolve, creativity and, above all else, a steadfast unwillingness to believe in the sort of ideologically driven fairytale solutions from people like Sen. Durbin.