Thursday, June 21, 2018
Public safety

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:

Acceptance.

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 fightingchancesolutions.com.

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.

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