Every day, 100 Americans are killed by gun violence, and hundreds more are injured. While most of these shootings are not in public schools, children safety at school is a major concern. Gun control measures are currently political non-starters and people are turning to palliatives like bulletproof backpacks among other desperate solutions in an attempt to protect their children.
Sales of bulletproof backpacks have spiked almost 300 percent following a spate of school shootings and the recent attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Yet, none of the backpacks currently on the market would have stopped a single rifle round coming from those gunmen.
Bulletproof backpacks and backpack inserts for students are for sale online and on the shelves at major retailers including Office Depot, Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond. Made by companies such as Bullet Blocker, Guard Dog and TuffyPacks, the backpacks sell for anywhere between $99 and $490. However, to block the kind of piercing ammunition frequently fired by military-style rifles in recent mass and school shootings requires protection containing a hard ceramic or metallic plate weighing several pounds, with a “Level IV” rating. Yasir Sheikh, president of Skyline USA, which makes the Guard Dog backpacks, said in a statement to NBC News,
“When considering protection against rifle round ammunition, that entails a thick, heavy ceramic plate which is not practical for daily carry use, especially when considering a child or young adult. Our backpacks are rated for Level IIIA, which is often the same protection used by local law enforcement.”
TowerPinkster, an architecture firm based in Michigan, has designed a school for the hamlet of Fruitport to minimize the impact of mass shootings. While the project won’t be finished until 2021, some elements are already in place as part of the longterm $48 million remodeling effort. The campus will feature a series of fire doors which can all be closed and locked with the pushing of a single button, to isolate an attacker in one area. Hallways will be slightly curved to cut off the shooter’s line of sight; intermittent wing walls will dot the halls as well so that children might hide behind them. Similar barriers will exist behind classroom doors in hopes that teachers and students can hide in their rooms as well.
Lockers will no longer line walls, but instead, be located on islands in the middle of wide-open spaces. The stated benefit of this is to allow teachers to see the whole room without obstruction. The lockers will also be much shorter than most high school lockers. The building’s windows will be covered in a bulletproof film.
Sandy Hook was recently rebuilt with an eye towards keeping people out, and the American Institute of Architects came up with several ideas to make schools less vulnerable to mass shootings last year.
The Center for American Progress, a non-partisan think tank, has data that suggests that making schools “hard targets” isn’t very effective and has unwanted side effects on students. The same features that are supposed to protect students could make it harder for the police to apprehend the shooter. In 2003 SWAT team members blamed the design of a Frank Gehry building for delaying their capture of a shooter — it took seven hours.
Fruitport Superintendent Bob Szymoniak said of the building’s features:
“These are going to be design elements that are just naturally part of buildings going into the future.”
Hendricks, S. (2019, September 19). Sign of the times: School designed to limit impact of mass shootings. Retrieved from Big Think: https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/architecture-mass-shooting
Popken, B. (2019, August 21). Bulletproof backpacks wouldn’t have saved anyone in recent shootings. Retrieved from NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/bulletproof-backpacks-wouldn-t-have-saved-anyone-recent-shootings-n1042801
Friday’s mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health center, alongside last week’s white supremacist attack on a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, is a stark reminder that domestic terrorists continues to be one of the most real and present threats to Americans’ safety.
Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post
Posted: 08/14/2015 08:06 PM EDT
Published on Apr 15, 2014
Warning: Some may find this video disturbing.
Two million American kids live in a home where this could happen. Will you help stop it?
Published on Jun 24, 2013