Mass shootings: Thoughts, prayers and bulletproof backpacks


Patrick Casey

Mass shootings: Thoughts, prayers and bulletproof backpacks

By Editorial Board

In lieu of legislative action, children are offered armor.

A private school in Miami has begun offering bulletproof backpack panels to its students. The school has never experienced a shooting, but as an added level of safety, Florida Christian School has given parents the option to purchase the panels for students from pre-school to high school. 

The bulletproof panels the school is offering are not out of the ordinary. As mass shootings continue to increase, an entire industry dedicated to bulletproof products is burgeoning. In August 2013, University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced classrooms would be equipped with lightweight bulletproof whiteboards that can be used as shields during a shooting. Companies like Impact Armor Technologies sell ballistic clipboards. 

Some have criticized Florida Christian School for selling the panels, claiming the decision is an act of normalizing the deadly mass shootings that have become an almost weekly event.

These panels are not normalization. They are a sign the public has accepted the nation is at a standstill in preventing mass shootings.

For mass shootings’ perpetrators, it has almost become a competition to orchestrate the largest display of devastation as shootings become deadlier. After the June 12, 2016, shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, took 49 lives, it was hard to imagine a higher death toll—until Stephen Paddock claimed 58 lives during the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas, a little over a year later.

As death counts continue to rise, Congress remains in a gridlock. On Nov. 8, state Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, reintroduced a bill that would ban assault weapons, ammunition magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition and bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at faster rates. Considering prior pushback against gun control, the bill’s fate is grim. Since the Las Vegas shooting, multiple measures have been proposed to enact stricter gun legislation, and none have passed. 

When the government does nothing to prevent tragedy, it becomes easier to accept the unacceptable. This was evident after the Nov. 5 church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which took 26 lives. 

At a press conference the day of the shooting, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said, “Media, don’t blow it out there that it should have never happened, because it does happen.”

Some have criticized his comments as normalizing mass shootings and implying they are a natural occurrence. When mass shootings become a mainstay in America, the death, grief and helplessness that follow feel disturbingly standard.

It has become customary for people to desperately attempt to adapt to the looming threat of a mass shooting by selling bulletproof products to parents and children.

Maybe seeing groups of children resort to turning their school supplies into shields will be a tipping point for the U.S. to reevaluate how to respond to mass shootings. If not, the country has abandoned logic in favor of enduring a pattern of trauma.