Jimmy and Barbara Drake know the grief a terror attack can leave in its wake.
“We can’t bring our son back, but if we can provide that, other families don’t have to go through the grief of losing a loved one due to a senseless murder that would be wonderful,” said Barbara Drake.
The Drakes lost their 32-year-old son, Darren, in the Islamic State-inspired attack on Halloween in Manhattan. A radicalized man accused of driving a rented truck onto a bike path, killing eight people.
“We need everything that we can get to arm ourselves,” she said.
“There was a clear step we could have taken,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who represents New Jersey’s fifth congressional district.
Rep. Gottheimer is writing a bill to require background checks for all rental vehicles. He pointed out that the first World Trade Center attack 25 years ago, and recent attacks on the London Bridge, and in Paris, were all done with rented vehicles.
“When enacted, the Darren Drake Act will helps us thwart lone-wolf terror by requiring all vehicle rental companies match critical information on individuals against the government’s terror watch list. Rental companies will be required to share instantaneously this information with FBI and the National Counter Terrorism Center NCTC to flag any potential terrorist matches,” said Gottheimer.
“It has to be one of the greatest ideas for helping Americans be safe,” said Jimmy Drake.
The Drakes support the bill and will be Gottheimer’s guests at Tuesday’s State of the Union address hoping to deliver a message to the president and lawmakers.
“ISIS and their terrorists they aren’t looking for any one person. Anybody that’s American, they want to kill. It could have been your brother, your brother, your brother. It’s America. This is us! If there was ever a time that we could pull together, this is it. These people are after us. So, if I could get a word to the president, I would say, ‘Mr. President, let’s pull us together and not divide us’,” said Jimmy Drake.
Gottheimer says the technology exists to run such counter-terrorism checks seamlessly on all rented vehicles under a Darren Drake Combating 21st Century Weapons of Terror Act, a move the Drakes agree that given the history of how rented vehicles have been used to kill and maim should have been done long ago.