A reasonable society, in response to repeated and devastating school shootings that kill innocent children before they have a chance to grow up, would enact new gun laws to prevent such occurrences from happening again. Instead, our society has let parents buy bulletproof backpacks for their children and hope for the best.
According to a TMZ report, sales of bulletproof backpacks have skyrocketed since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers. Citing data from Leatherback Gear, a maker of armored backpacks, TMZ said sales have increased more than 800% in recent weeks. Another protective backpack brand, TuffyPacks, said sales soared 300%, with purchases coming from across the country. A third company, Guard Dog Security, told TMZ it has seen increased interest from retailers like Lowe’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods who want to put bulletproof backpacks on their store shelves.
This is the trend in America in recent years. A mass shooting hits a community, leaving people dead, injured and many more traumatized. It captures our attention for a fleeting moment, as the tragedy cannot be ignored, but it quickly becomes clear that nothing will be done about it. No new legislation will be passed, no new restrictions will be put in place, nothing will be done to secure our communities or protect our most vulnerable citizens. So people look for solutions on their own.
After a series of mass shootings in 2019, a CNN report found that sales of bulletproof backpacks increased by 300% across the country. A similar spike occurred right after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; by CNBCmanufacturers of bulletproof backpacks saw their sales double and triple in the wake of this tragedy.
There’s not much evidence to suggest that bulletproof backpacks would help much in the event of a school shooting. They offer some protection, especially against handguns, but tests conducted by NBC News showed that bullets from an AR-15 still ripped through armor. There are also logistical questions: do the children carry their backpacks most of the day? Is the extra weight of armor plate a burden to carry for a fourth grader? Given that most bulletproof backpacks sell for between $200 and $500, are they even feasible for most families?
It’s hard to blame parents for buying into this trend. They worry about their children and look for all the solutions likely to secure them, even a little, even an illusion. But bulletproof backpacks are not a solution to our school shooting epidemic. They are, at best, a band-aid – and at worst an admission that we will never take real action. This is the reality we have decided to live with: a reality where backpacks are not for books, but for bulletproof vests.