The events of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the shootings all over the US that have followed over the last 3 days have sparked a huge uptrend in talks about Gun Violence and what to do to prevent it and protect against it. While I agree that there are certain things that need to be done. Some parents and companies are going overboard. Now, I would negligent if I didn’t point out this is America, Capitalism reigns here. Companies will produce and market anything that there is even the slightest demand for. It is the nature of the system. That’s not to say its right, it however is how it works.
Since the shooting in Connecticut, parents are frightened for their children’s safety, almost to the point of paranoia. School systems across the country have got thousands of phone calls, emails, and letters wanting to know what they are doing to protect their child. Oklahoma is working to introduce legislation because of this that will arm teachers. The Oklahoma Teachers Association commented “Schools can be emotional places at times. Kids can get emotional. Teachers can get emotional. Parents come in emotional. Throw weapons into that mix, and it can be dangerous.” Due to this outcry from parents has hit such extremes that a company called Amendment II is now offering a special line of bullet proof backpacks for children and teens made from the same material as their military grade bulletproof vests. “Basically, there’s three models,” says Derek Williams. “A SwissGear that’s made for teens, and we’ve got an Avengers and a Disney Princess backpack for little kids.” Williams is the president of Amendment II. Since Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, sales have gone through the roof. “I can’t go into exact sales numbers, but basically we tripled our sales volume of backpacks that we typically do in a month—in one week,” Williams says.
The Centurion Shield RynoHide backpack-insert goes for $199—$100 less than the armored Disney Princesses backpack. So why would you pay the extra green? As Williams explains it, “With kids, you never know when they’re gonna take something out of their backpack and not put it back in.” Amendment II isn’t the only company capitalizing on fear in the wake of school shootings. There are at least 6 other companies selling kid friendly body armor. Sadly its like this, after something horrible happens its only a matter of time before someone finds a way to make money from it. Be that collector mugs with the World Trade Center on them, bullet proof back packs, or bumper stickers to show support. Somewhere, someone will find a way to make money on someone else’s misfortune.
The problem is that we let these companies play on our emotions and fears. School shootings while a problem aren’t as prevalent as one would think, the odds of one happening are surprisingly low. There are more than 100,000 public schools in America. Those schools are in session an average of 180 days a year. Doing the math, at any given school there is an about 1 in 178 million chance that a mass shooting will happen at that school. If we start factoring in the theaters, malls and churches where shootings have happened. All of these places (with the exception of churches, which oddly enough are the statistically most likely place for a shooting just by the numbers) are even at least as safe as schools. While I am a firm believer that something needs to be done to resolve the issue of mass shootings, it should also be noted that parents calling schools multiple times a day asking what they are doing to protect their child and buying heavy bullet-proof back packs for their kids is going a little far.
- Sixth Grader Brings Gun To School, Says Parents Told Him To Carry It For Protection After Newtown Shootings (mediaite.com)
- The Christian Extremist Version of the Tragedy in Connecticut (atheistrev.com)
- On social media: Local reaction to Conn. school shooting (kansascity.com)
- School shooting triggers ‘mind battle’ for Columbine victims (cnn.com)
- School Shootings: How Do We Prevent Them? (education.com)