Wednesday, August 22

Local Companies Rush to Barricade Classrooms For Profit

katie bar the classroom door
I was discussing the school shooting issue with a friend of mine who invented a Chromebook Case that we hoped might also be bullet proof. He told me he wasn't sure about the ballistic properties of his creation, but we did both see the potential profit in marketing a veritable shield. Neither of us wanted to do it, but it only makes sense, right? Local door and window companies are jumping in to make some money, just as the manufacturer of bulletproof backpacks made a run at the market last year. So, will all these upgrades make schools safer or just businessmen richer?

Some odds for you: based on some rough numbers, let's say each school has a 1 in 5000 chance of having a shooting, assuming rates stay constant. Inside those schools, a student would have a 1 in 100 chance of getting shot. So we're at 1 in 500000. If you're a resident of Jacksonville, you have a 1 in 6500 chance of being murdered. Wait, is that right? I assume we're installing bulletproof glass and doors and wearing body armor in our Jacksonville neighborhoods each day.

I know, I know. It's random at schools. It's innocent people. White people. Rich people, etc. But maybe schools are just reflecting our national murder rate of 1 in 16,000 people. That's what schools do, right? Prepare kids for the real world. Fine, this is all semi-satirical. I'm not trying to trivialize school shootings. I'm just wondering what good fortification will do. And if it does so much to protect people, then why don't we have these doors and windows as standard equipment in our worst neighborhoods.

Are we going to have snipers out front as students are dropped off and picked up? Are we going to lock all the kids in the same classroom all day? No recess or passing time or lunch? In all but a few cases, school shootings have taken place in common areas at times when people are there. I'm sure bulletproof backpacks will be seen as something that could conceal a weapon, so they won't be allowed. And since all the shootings have been eerily similar to first-person shooter games rather than sniping from an adjacent hillside, I'm pretty sure the glass and doors will be circumvented before the shooter begins firing. Even my strong Chromebook case would offer little real protection.

And now I see the initiative to add bleed kits to every classroom? Maybe we should have the National Guard stationed outside every school and a MASH unit in the cafeteria. Again, many of these kids live in neighborhoods that have a much higher murder rate than will ever carry over into the classroom. Shouldn't we have bleed kits in every internet cafe, gas station, and other places people tend to get killed daily in JAX? I watched one story on the news that said one neighborhood had 80 violent crimes within a half mile in the past three months. That's messed up. Based on the population density, that's like a one in 10 chance for someone in that area of town to be a victim each three months. Extrapolate those numbers over the year, and it's like a one in two chance. How scary is it that we have violent blocks where there's nearly a 50% chance you'll be a victim of a violent crime, but we're going nuts about adding bulletproof glass and bleed kits for every school classroom?

Basically, the chance of a school shooting killing a single child is way higher in America than in other countries, as is our murder rate, as is our gun ownership rate, but there's little evidence that arming, armoring, barricading, training, hiring, or practicing will actually reduce the deadliness of legally-acquired guns owned by 2nd Amendment-loving Americans. The gun manufacturers have done a great job of creating weapons that are designed to efficiently kill many people, and I commend them on their skills as accessories to murder.  Lots of them. In schools and in neighborhoods. But it's all a chance for inventors, entrepreneurs, and (of course) gun manufacturers to make some money off the fear of others. It's the American way, I suppose. 

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