Bulletproof Backpacks, Armed Teachers: A Hard Pill to Swallow


Caption Credit: Piper Blancher

PIper Blancher, Co-Editor

As I lie in bed Sunday night Snapchatting my unnecessary number of streaks, I received two unfortunate notifications from The New York Times app.  The city of Jacksonville, Florida was subject to two mass shootings over a span of forty-eight hours. The first took place at a Friday night high school football game. Senseless gang violence cost one student their life and left two others in critical condition. The second shooting occurred at the Madden 19 Competitive Gaming tournament. Gunshots rang out at Jacksonville Landing at 1:34 Saturday afternoon. A livestream of the event captured one gamer with a red laser pointed at his chest. The video then cut out, but viewers could still hear the firing of twelve rounds. Eleven gamers were injured and two other gamers were pronounced dead on the scene. The gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot on the scene of the double murder. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are working together to uncover a motive.

These tragic events are part of the constant reminder of America’s constant threat of gun violence. Children go to school, a place they should feel safe and free from harm, with the fear that they may not return home. As I lie there thinking of the lives that were forever changed this weekend, still scrolling through Snapchat, an article about new bulletproof backpacks appeared on my explore page. The article featured bulletblocker.com, a site known for its bulletproof vests and tactical armor. Ranging from $175 to $490, bulletblocker.com sells children’s school bags specially designed for protecting children in the event of a school shooting. “Cute, pink, light weight and similar enough to regular backpacks to not draw undo attention. I have instructed my granddaughter how to carry in case of such a horrible tragedy with someone shooting at innocent children. She used it every day since I gave it to her to go to school,” says bulletblocker.com purchaser Vingie, according to the website. The bags have all been tested to withstand rounds fired from a 375 Magnum, 44 Magnum, 9 mm, and .45 caliber hollow point ammunition. The bags, however, have not been tested to protect from an AR-15 assault rifle, the weapon of choice used in the Valentine’s Day attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida. The bags are expected to be picked up by retailers such as Walmart, The Home Depot, and Office Depot.

As of May 25, 2018, there have been twenty-three shootings taking place on a school campus. This leads students all over the country to beg the question, “If not now, then when?” The distribution of bulletproof backpacks only adds fuel to the fire of this harsh reality.

United States Secretary of Education Betsy Devos is currently taking into consideration the use of federal funds to arm teachers with guns incase of such an event. When I asked Mrs. Bourque, cheer sponsor and Journalism teacher, how she felt about the matter, she was eager to share her opinions. Mrs. Bourque stated that, “Putting guns into the hands of teachers is the wrong move. If not stored properly, said guns could easily get into the wrong hands, causing more harm than help. Putting more guns in schools in not the solution to getting guns out of schools.”

I leave you, Ascension, with this. Ask yourself, did you ever think you would see the day where teachers may be given guns to protect their students? Did you ever think you would see the day when bulletproof backpacks would soon be on Walmart shelves? Did you ever think you would see the day where school shootings average twice per week? Neither did those who lost their lives to a school shooting.