Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bulletproof backpacks, blankets are sad accessories for school shootings

It has been 15 years since two heavily armed teens walked into Columbine High and obliterated the notion that classrooms might somehow be immune to life's horrors.

Since then, the mayhem has only multiplied. Thirty-two killed at Virginia Tech. Twenty-six at Sandy Hook Elementary. We have read about dozens of remorseless killers and even more defenseless victims. School shootings have become so commonplace, they have seemingly lost much of their shock value.

For those who believe in the process of grief, I fear that we may have reached the most disturbing stage of all:


News item: Touting technology and materials equivalent to protection given to U.S. soldiers in combat, an Oklahoma company recently unveiled a product called the Bodyguard Blanket. The blanket can be fastened on the back of a child in the event of a school intruder. The cost is approximately $1,000 per blanket. Preorders have already exceeded the manufacturer's "wildest'' expectations according to the Huffington Post.

We have had years to talk about this. Years to act on this. A child in preschool at the time of Columbine is now in college. And still we have nothing approaching a solution.

The antigun crowd sees legislation as the answer. Bans on assault weapons. Background checks for weapons purchased online and at gun shows.

The Second Amendment crowd sees more guns as the only deterrent. Armed employees in public school classrooms. College students allowed to bring weapons on campus.

Meanwhile, two more school shootings were reported in the last 10 days.

News item: Colombia's Miguel Caballero, who makes bulletproof clothing in designer styles for politicians and business executives around the world, has begun producing safety vests and backpacks for schoolchildren. The backpacks, which come in pink, red and blue with child-appropriate designs and cost about $300, were developed after parents began requesting them in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Caballero told the Washington Post it is a uniquely American product.

There is a governmental hypocrisy to this issue that is stunning. And sad. And, if you're paying attention, infuriating.

Legislators eager to please the National Rifle Association continue to push the idea that more guns on campus is a good thing. That the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Whether you believe that or not, you have to at least wonder:

Why isn't that true in government buildings?

Why, for instance, do our lawmakers in Florida forbid guns in the Legislative chambers?

News item: Concerned about security procedures at their middle school, teachers in Iowa have developed a device that can be fastened to a door's closer arm making it more difficult for an intruder to enter a classroom. The product, known as the Sleeve, is available for $65 at

Entrepreneurs have jumped into the void. Local school districts have paid for school resource officers and taken measures to secure school entrances. Parents have done their part to protect their children the best ways they know how.

It is the politicians who have dragged their feet. In Florida, it is the folks in Tallahassee who have dallied and dickered while danger has existed one trigger away.

Almost as if they have accepted the inevitability of it all.

News item: The University of Maryland Eastern Shore spent about $60,000 to buy 200 bulletproof whiteboards for professors. The manufacturer told the Baltimore Sun the product was a last resort designed to buy a teacher extra time in a shooting scenario.

Bulletproof backpacks, blankets are sad accessories for school shootings 06/13/14 [Last modified: Saturday, June 14, 2014 9:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Datz to open in St. Petersburg, join the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

    Food & Dining

    Now Datz news.

    Get it? Tuesday, Datz, the longtime line-out-the-door, oft-Instagrammed and -Yelped Tampa stalwart known for shock-and-awe sandwiches and oh-so-much bacon, announced it is coming to St. Petersburg.

    Lunch guest eat at Datz Deli at 2616 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Times files.
  2. Republican leader McConnell pulls the plug on latest Obamacare repeal effort

    WASHINGTON --- Sen. Mitch McConnell on Tuesday officially pulled the plug on the latest plan to repeal the health care law, telling senators they will not vote on the measure and effectively admitting defeat in the last-gasp drive to fulfill a core promise of President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, after the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary. DeVos was approved by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) DCSA119
  3. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in


    The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season.

    LHP Blake Snell will be on the mound for the Rays, looking to continue his successful late-season run, in which he is 4-0, 2,57 over his last eight starts.

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  5. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]