Rational or Hysterical? Minnesota Schools District Buys Bulletproof Whiteboards

article-2313299-196FFE9A000005DC-484_634x352While schools in Arizona are adding armed posses and schools in Connecticut are arming janitors, a Minnesota school has turned to bulletproof whiteboards as its last ditch defense against attackers. Two students died in a shooting in the Rocori School District in 2003 so the school has purchased 18-by-20-inch whiteboards that can be used by teachers for instruction or bullet protection.

Maryland-based Hardwire LLC is tapping into the near hysteria over school shootings, even though such shootings remains incredibly rare.

The boards are $109 a pop as opposed to normal white boards that cost as little as $23.

article-2313299-196FFE9E000005DC-550_634x356I must confess some skepticism on the practicality of a shield for a teacher. First, it appears to protect only one person and only from a frontal attack. The teacher would have to lose use of one hand and arm in managing children. The teacher would also have to find the board in the chaos of a shooting. The teacher would then be protected while the kids behind him or her would be exposed. The magic board strikes me as more of a psychological than practice protection for these reasons.

What do you think?

Source: USA Today

88 thoughts on “Rational or Hysterical? Minnesota Schools District Buys Bulletproof Whiteboards

  1. I agree. This is window dressing, intended to convey a (false) sense of security. The NRA was widely derided for the comment “it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun” yet there is truth in this platitude. Just ask the Israelis, who post armed parents and teachers in their schools. My fear is that now the terrorists have seen how our society reacts to a massacre of schoolchildren by a deranged man, the next massacre will be an act of jihad, like Beslan. We had better be ready.

  2. Roger, if only there had been a good guy with a bomb in Boston because we all know the only way to stop a bad guy with a bomb is with a good guy with a bomb.

    Now, with the stupid bumper sticker thinking out of the way, maybe we can have a rational discussion of the topic. This is like so much of the ‘security’ we have seen instituted since the insanity set in after 9/11. It seems like they are doing something even thought it is obvious they are not doing anything useful – window dressing. Some morons actually bought “bomb detectors” that were nothing more than divining rods. Even educated people can be stupid about things they have not been trained in.

  3. If the teachers feel more comfortable with these whiteboards, they can have them. The whiteboards strike me as a much better expenditure than the GUNS that the NRA wants to bring into the schools.

  4. False sense of security… False promises …. More wasted money…are they a contractor for Halliburton …..

  5. The teacher would then be protected while the kids behind him or her would be exposed. The magic board strikes me as more of a psychological than practice protection for these reasons.

    What do you think?
    The comments tend to agree with you JT and I do too.

    This may also instill an inflated sense of fear in kids because of a scenario where, as you pointed out, school shootings are rare.

    Kids are more likely to die in vehicle accidents going to or from school, or by disease of some sort, than they are by school shootings.

  6. This item is beyond silly, but there is an entrepreneur for every occasion. I mentioned this here before, but both the FBI and Secret Service came out with extensively researched white papers on school shootings after the Columbine incident. At that time my youngest was still in High School, so I approached the Principal to discuss the papers and other security issues with him. He knows of my decades of experience in the area of security and forensics, so it was not as if he thought I was just another concerned parent.

    He was unaware of the documents. I told him I would be happy to conduct some in-service seminars for the school staff and administration. He made some polite small talk, but I never heard from him about taking me up on my offer. He expressed no interest in obtaining copies of the FBI and Secret Service white papers either.

    I then went over to the School Board offices and talked to the (then) Superintendent of the school district. Same thing.

  7. RogerJ is correct. There is only one thing worse than no security, and that is a false sense of security. I was teaching after Columbine. The high school where I was working hastily put into place an ID badge system for all people in the building. The problem was these badges were EASILY counterfeited. I pointed this out to the dull/normal principal and she scowled and ignored it.

  8. Lets see, teachers stand up in the front of the room…. Might just have to purchase them full riot gear, with Kevlar Vests…… As the chances of a bullet hitting them before the whiteboard is better than shooting fish in a barrel….

  9. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a bulletproof lock and door on the classroom? Bulletproof or not, a bullet can strike that whiteboard with enough momentum to knock the teacher over, or at least knock it out of their grip and leave them exposed. A bullet will hit with about the momentum of a hard swung baseball bat; it will be damn hard to hang onto that board.

  10. Dredd: Kids are more likely to die in vehicle accidents going to or from school, or by disease of some sort, than they are by school shootings.

    Perhaps, and we have legislated to reduce kids (and adults) dying in vehicle accidents, and we have worked in medicine to reduce kids dying by disease, and required vaccinations for the worst of those among kids.

    I think this type of comparison is nearly meaningless, and shallow and callous in the bargain. A child is also more likely to die in a vehicular accident than they are likely to die of cancer (2 to 3 times more likely); that does not imply we should abandon all research into the detection, prevention, and treatment of childhood cancer.

    “A > B” is not a helpful observation when we are trying to minimize “A+B”, and focusing on A instead of B can thwart progress if A is intractable, or we are already doing all we can for A, but there is still some opportunity to reduce B.

  11. In response to Roger’s “good man with a gun” theory, Frankly wrote: “Roger, if only there had been a good guy with a bomb in Boston because we all know the only way to stop a bad guy with a bomb is with a good guy with a bomb.”

    Uh, no. There may be many good reasons not to have armed protectors in schools, but the “good man with a gun” scenario is worth debating, even if we reject it. In no way is it parallel to “a good man with a bomb.” That is a very stupid comparison, which you then follow up with an appeal to rational discussion.

    Pro tip: don’t lecture others on rational discussion if your own comparisons are inane.

  12. dkenner, aren’t you just engaging in simply more lecturing in your weak attempt to end the lecturing?

    “Lecturing” is feature of this blog, not a bug. But I digress…

    The comparison was apt, as both statements, whether bomb or gun, speak to an untreated state of HIggledy-Piggledy of the mind. One is just further advanced in its destructive power. At the root of both lay fear unrecognized.

    If the good guy with a bomb isn’t worth debating, arming with anything else isn’t worth debating either.

  13. My comparison is valid. If you think having 30 or 40 armed people who are trained to teach (or worse, nuts that Sheriff Arpiao dredged up) is a good thing you have not been in a school recently. I also would guess that you have never imagined what a free-fire exercise would look like in a school or how the cops would react when entering a building with a known shooter & 40 armed, semi (if at all) trained people with guns.

    Cops carry guns & get a lot of training yet they end up getting shot, shooting the wrong person or misusing their guns. Imagine that times 13000 schools

  14. Dredd: Perhaps what? Did you not read the rest of the post? The fact that accident is the leading cause of death does not mean reducing homicide is pointless, as you implied in your post. You seem incapable of understanding the written word.

  15. While I agree that having these whiteboards is better than arming teachers, it is a waste of money for the district and highly unlikely to be of any real value. Keep guns out of the wrong peoples hands with universal background checks. It already works when utilized.

  16. dkenner: If “good man with a gun” means a cop with a gun, I am not opposed. If our society has become so depraved that children entrusted to the public good (public schools, public daycares) are now targets, I am not opposed to facing that reality.

    I see no reason to not post trained police personnel with guns at schools to protect them. I would not mind any increase in taxes that presented to me (about a 1% increase in current public school budgets to have two cops protect each school). I believe such police should be in plainclothes with their weapons concealed beneath a jacket in a shoulder holster. Plainclothes would also make them harder to target by those intent on causing harm.

    Politicians seem to have no problem protecting themselves using plainclothes armed guards (like the secret service); even in the presence of children. Citizens see no reason to deny them that protection. I fail to see what harm would befall children in grade school if another adult in a suit is walking the halls or perimeter. They don’t know what half the adults in their school do anyway, they regard any adult as an authority figure.

    I do think such personnel should be trained, full time police officers, perhaps with additional training to deal with children (like child psychology). If they meet that standard, they are good enough to protect our children from criminals elsewhere, so they are good enough to protect them when entrusted to a public institution like a grade school.

    I also reject the idea of double-duty by teachers as armed guards. There is no need to save a dime, here. Let teachers be professional teachers and let the cops be professional guardians; trying to mix the two diminishes the execution of both functions and increases the chances of tragic error.

    Darren; I’d like to hear your opinion on that.

  17. raff, It is a MINOR waste of monry. Chump change in how govt. wastes money. The false sense of secrity is much more wasteful and dangerous than the few bucks extra. Now, your pipedream regarding background checks is well..a pipedream.

  18. You guys that want more cops on school sites have two problems to overcome.
    First, one cop in a large school against a nut job like the one in Newtown, armed with a high powered semi-auto is in deep trouble. A ‘bullet-proof’ vest is useless against a long gun firing 7.62×39 or 7.62×51 to say nothing of the response time to find the shooter who in all likelihood will be in something of a crowd.
    Second, I believe these stories have even been posted here but there are several good studies that cops at schools have not had the desired results of lowered crime but have done a marvelous job of criminalizing youthful misbehavior in ways that were never intended. Kids that would have been suspended for some minor infraction are ending up in juvie with a record.

    The one case in GA where the asst. Principal ‘stopped’ a shooting with his handgun? Well, the shooter had stopped shooting, gone outside and was sitting under a tree waiting for the police to arrive. The good guy with a gun didn’t do anything except wait with him

  19. SWM, I’ll refer back to my original comment in this thread. “A false sense of security is more dangerous than no security.” The Newtown shooter’s mom would have passed any background check, and this is the tragedy that caused this bill. I’m closer to a “no gun” person than I am to “gun nut” on the 2nd amendment spectrum. However, above all else I believe in common sense. Background checks apparently will make some folks “feel” better. It will not make it any better.

  20. What do I think?

    It’s a complete waste of money! A bulletproof whiteboard would not have made me feel secure when I was teaching. This would be just another rip-off of taxpayers’ money.

  21. Nick, I can’t disagree with most of your thinking on this but you are cherry picking when you say background checks wouldn’t have stopped Newtown. You are right but your sample size is too small.

    I compare it more to how we started dealing with highway safety since the mid 60’s. Licensing and training has been beefed up, insurance is required, roads have been improved, cars have been made safer through mandated features. People still die in car accidents but only at a rate 1/3 of what they did in 1965 (per million miles driven). Sensible things like background checks, limits on weapons and magazines, insurance requirements and, yes, even licensing and registration, would go a long way towards reducing the number of gun deaths in the US. The government has not tried to take away our cars after all this improvement btw

  22. Jones and Scott Staska, the Rocori superintendent, noted that the boards are a supplement to a broad plan that includes lockdown drills and school resource officers. -from the following link

    Jones and Scott Staska: Proud members of AIIA — American Idiots In Action


    “Police Chief Phil Jones demonstrated the whiteboards Tuesday in a school gym by leveling a karate kick at one, whacking it with a police baton and stabbing it with a knife — all with no apparent effect.

    Jones didn’t fire his gun at the whiteboard, saying it would have been unsafe and inappropriate at the school. But he said he’d tested it earlier by firing several rounds at it.

    “We put this board to the test, and quite frankly, that was the day I became a believer,” Jones said.

    The manufacturer, Maryland-based Hardwire LLC, has been working on armor protection devices for military vehicles and personnel for years. The company turned its attention to school security after the Connecticut elementary school shootings in December that killed 20 children and six educators.

    Company officials said the whiteboards are already in schools in North Dakota and Maryland, and are being rolled out in Pennsylvania and California. Jones said Rocori schools are the first to use them in Minnesota.

    At least one security expert questioned whether the boards would be effective. Bill Nesbitt, president of school security consulting firm Security Management Services International, wasn’t familiar with the whiteboards but said his initial reaction was that they may provide a false sense of security. The prudent thing to do would be to retreat from danger rather than hide behind a whiteboard, he said.

    Jones and Scott Staska, the Rocori superintendent, noted that the boards are a supplement to a broad plan that includes lockdown drills and school resource officers.”

  23. Frankly: A ‘bullet-proof’ vest is useless against a long gun

    It is also useless against an atomic bomb, a head shot, and a fleet of bulldozers. Yet for some reason cops still wear them.

    You seem to think the only solutions worth considering are those absolutely guaranteed to solve the problem completely, otherwise we should just take our chances. I think that a plainclothes cop with a hand gun could reduce the death rate; I think standard one-way doors (locked from the outside, open from the inside) could reduce the death rate.

    Wild extremes can defeat any solution. The Newtown shooter walked into a school unopposed by any security personnel or physical security barrier.

    You cannot walk into a Congressman’s office (or even my Mayor’s offices) armed to the teeth and unopposed. For a good reason, those things reduce the chances of those politicians being killed by disgruntled citizens. The politicians certainly believe that, you do not hear them calling to end their security details as a “waste of money.”

    Why should school children be more expendable than grown politicians? Other adults have a choice, and in many states the choice to carry concealed weapons. Children have no choice, and (with good reason) their parents cannot choose to arm them, and I do not think any teacher should have the choice to be armed in a school either; the lack of training and the possibility of some kid ending up with the gun is too great.

    The question isn’t whether the cop can be defeated, the question is whether a trained cop, as a deterrent or as a defender, would reduce the incidence of child mass murder. The same question applies to physical barriers like self-locking one-way doors.

  24. You know I always feel safe when the government is in charge of something….. I just wonder how many rights one must voluntarily give up before they have none left to give…

    Common fact…. Cops and most crooks have guns….

    Common myth…. All cops and crooks gun have been registered…. And both are qualified to carry…. Another myth… all cops are honest…..

    Somebody google up the required accuracy for police officers… Hence the departments proficiency requirments for officers to fire a weapon…. You’ll be amazed that lots of police departments have no required qualifications…. Nor a requirement that the officers recieve any training to carry….or to even be employed….

  25. Tony C:

    “I also reject the idea of double-duty by teachers as armed guards. There is no need to save a dime, here. Let teachers be professional teachers and let the cops be professional guardians; trying to mix the two diminishes the execution of both functions and increases the chances of tragic error.”

    Seems to be working okay in Utah, which has allowed concealed carry in schools by teachers and other permit holders, since January 2001. So far, at least, there don’t seem to have been significant problems.

  26. Frankly, I am not opposed to background checks, per se. My picking the Newtown shooting could be called “cherry picking,” but as I said, that is what precipitated the bill. It sounds like we agree it would have had no effect on Newtown. Auto safety is a topic on which we are in agreement. Many of the cases I worked were auto accidents, a large % being fatal. The big difference is there is no constitutional right to drive. There is one to bear arms. I remind you, I’m not even close to being an idealogue on this. I sympathize w/ those who want the end to gun madness, I have also worked too many cases involving gun deaths. However, the paranoia idealogues have invlolving those who would like to ban guns, or make gun owners follow draconian rules is not unwarranted. “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someones not out to get you.”

  27. Tony C. 1, April 30, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Dredd: Perhaps what? Did you not read the rest of the post? The fact that accident is the leading cause of death does not mean reducing homicide is pointless, as you implied in your post. You seem incapable of understanding the written word.
    Yes, your word is incapable of being understood, so I admit of that when it comes to your tortured logic.

    I notice what JT said in the post:

    Maryland-based Hardwire LLC is tapping into the near hysteria over school shootings, even though such shootings remains incredibly rare.

    What would you advocate next, thicker white boards to ward off lightening strikes or meteorite impacts?

    Statistically lightening is as much a danger as a school invasion death.

    Get real fantasy boy.

  28. “Frankly: A ‘bullet-proof’ vest is useless against a long gun”

    Not true. Depends on the armor. The statement is true for low-end body armor. Top quality armor will withstand a hit from a .50 caliber sniper round. However, the impact will feel like getting hit with a baseball bat swung by Sammy Sosa.

    I checked Gall’s web site, which is one of the “go to” online stores for police supplies. Their body armor vest prices range from a low of $56.99 up to more than three thousand dollars. You get what you pay for.

    The video below is an actual incident of an American soldier being shot by a sniper which just happened to be caught on camera. For those fearful of opening the video, it’s OK. He survived to tell the tale with no serious injury, thanks to his high quality body armor. FWIW, snipers do not use “assault weapons.” They prefer heavy caliber rounds for long range and a sure kill. The point here is, ballistic body armor can protect against a rifle round, even from a high-powered sniper rifle.

  29. Dredd: Statistically lightening [sic] is as much a danger as a school invasion death.

    And yet, many parents with brains still take precautions to keep their kids from being struck by lightning, don’t they? Many schools and other public buildings still put in lightning rods to prevent such disasters, don’t they?

    There is also a significant difference between destructive acts of nature, senseless molecular biology, unintentional accidents, and deliberate criminal acts.

    To put it in words you might understand, “one of these things is not like the others.” Perhaps some puppetry would help your attention span.

  30. Tony C,

    Yep, and this is why Cheezus followers glow in the dark of their minds.

    You should buy a truckload of whiteboards and sell it at a prophet [sic].

    I mean, heck, parents do it to purteck those childurns who do learn …

  31. This whiteboard is completely impractical and I have to agree it is more the result of an entrepreneur trying to sell a product based upon fear. The way this item would be defeated would be for the shooter to simply walk around it and shoot the person behind, or shoot out the legs of the person and when they fell finish them off.

    The most effective way as far as equipment goes would be to make concrete walls, bullet proof doors and windows equipped with a locking system that closed the doors and locked them during a lockdown situation. Trouble is, it would likely perhaps double the cost of the school or more for new construction and highly expensive to retrofit. Bottom line, do people want to pay extremely high construction costs and subsequently more taxes for the rare event that something like this will happen? And then are there going to be no situations where children are playing outside when someone goes on a rampage? Carry over the paranoia to teach every child to be in fear of their lives, what would be worse for society?

    Or, in alternative, hire a police officer for every school in every town. Again, more money for little benefit. And how many children could be shot before the officer arrived? Guard every entrance? Come on. Unless of course people worry so unreasonably they want to “save the children” from every possible thing that could be bad. Put lightninng rods on every building, have each child wear a mask in the event they might spread bird flu, the list is nearly endless, but the chances are no different than ordinary life elsewhere.

  32. Industrious Fearmongers Introduce Bulletproof Whiteboards
    By Jordyn Taylor 1/23

    Since the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012, an increased number of students have been toting bulletproof backpacks to school. But how are teachers supposed to keep themselves safe in the event of a school shooting? Bulletproof whiteboards, of course.

    That’s right: Maryland’s Pocomoke City-based Hardwire has developed a hand-held whiteboard that also functions as a bulletproof shield. According to the hardware company, the shield can stop bullets fired from a handgun at pointblank range.

    “As teachers are doing their daily lesson plans, it’s in their hands. And if there’s a crisis, it’s in their hands,” said George Tunis, CEO of Pocomoke City-based Hardware. “Teachers are not first responders, but sometimes they’re thrust into that role.”

    The whiteboards, which measure 18 by 20 inches and weigh a little less than four pounds, are big enough to cover a teacher’s head and torso (there’s no need for anything bigger—the students, presumably, will be shielding themselves with their bulletproof backpacks). Mr. Tunis said that in the event of a school shooting—five of which have occurred in the past six weeks—teachers could use the whiteboards to protect themselves under emergency services responded.

    With the introduction of the bulletproof whiteboards, there is officially an industry of companies looking to cash in on parents’ fear. Bulletblocker, for example, a company that manufactures bulletproof backpacks, also sells “Bulletproof Clipboard Inserts” and “Bulletproof Defender Notebook Folios.”

    What’ll be invented tomorrow? Bulletproof glass surrounding every desk? A junior line of Kevlar clothes? Justin Bieber stun guns?

    How long before our schools lose all resemblance to places of learning and become full-blown prisons?

    If the NRA gets its wish and schools start arming their teachers, the answer would appear to be … soon.

  33. Darren,

    The whiteboard is also impractical for teaching. It’s way too small for large group instruction. It would also be difficult to use because of the three handles on the back.

    Some people who comment on this blog have written of their fear of the militarization of police departments in this country. What I fear even more is the militarization of our schools.

  34. Yet another in a long line of worthless government “knee-jerk”/”push-button” boondoggle solutions.

  35. Elaine,
    We do need to worry about the militarization of our schools when many have police walking the halls now and even more are turning school infractions into criminal infractions and sending students to jail.

  36. I agree with everyone who says this whole thing is silly and counterproductive. Better security is needed, not bulletproof vests and boards. This is not exactly the same as the need to put flotation devices under airplane seats.

    Regarding better security, there is no such thing as 100% security. The idea is not to make it impossible for an intruder to come in. That is an unattainable goal. It should be as difficult as possible for unauthorized persons get get in, or if an intruder does break the perimeter, there should be barriers for roaming about freely. As far as armed security or armed staff, in most cases I am familiar with, that is the first person a gunman will try to kill.

    Some school systems have CCTV video systems that rival Las Vegas casinos. They can even be accessed offsite by school administrators or law enforcement. Had a system like that been in place at Columbine, law enforcement would not have been so nervous about entering the building.

  37. So, are these Houston school principals are opposed to gun safety?

    The NRA “Eddie Eagle” program teaches such controversial ideas to children as: “If you see a gun, don’t pick it up. Go tell an adult.”

    I guess, coming from the NRA, that’s a bad idea Who knew?

  38. Porkchop & SwM,

    Firearms safety and training courses may very well be the ONLY thing the NRA gets right.

  39. OS – you will not see police officers running around with ceramic plate armor anytime soon. It is a pain in the ass to wear. When the boy went to Afghanistan they were unable to provide decent vests. We spent a small fortune on dragon skin because thats what the brass wore despite forbidding the troops to wear it.. It would have helped if he had gotten hit by an AK47 round but it would not have prevented injury. The stuff Cops wear will not even stop a .22LR fired from a long barrel weapon. We had a conservation officer here in MN badly hurt that way.

    BTW – the ceramic plates cannot withstand repeated hits anyway. A cop with a 9mm coming up against a loon with an assault riffle will go down hard while the pathetic 9 will most likely leave the attacker with a wound he can work through. Might kill him eventually but there have been guys in the ER with 8-9 9mm rounds that end up going home.

  40. Frankly,
    We are on the same page. The good stuff is prohibitively expensive, and a royal pain to wear. It only makes sense in a true combat situation.

    You can buy a lot of building security for what a few good vests cost. And the whiteboard thing is one of the most idiotic proposals I have ever seen.

  41. Bron:

    Not usually. It would have to be a supremely large and fast bullet to be able to do that and even then it likely would just go through. While many people do collapse from the pain or effect of the impact, they are rarely thrown backward off their feet.

    One way to visualize this is to consider nearly all small arms are either held in hand or shoulder fired. If the shooter wasn’t thrown back due to the recoil of the firearm the target shouldn’t be by the bullet itself. The bullet as it travels downrange has to contend with wind resistance and gravity and it decreases in kinetic energy as it confronts these forces. The shooter and the target also have the inertia of standing still and you have to account for the mass of the shooter or the target against the weight of the bullet and its acceleration/deceleration.

    Many people think that flying back as it often seen on TV and such is what happens but it generally isn’t that way. The targets often are moved but not as significantly.

  42. Darren:

    I was thinking about the bullet coming to an abrupt stop on the white board.

    If I am thinking about this correctly, there isnt much energy imparted at hammer fall since the bullet is standing still. Once it is moving in the barrel the only forces on the weapon are friction and gravity as the recoil is already acting.

  43. Bron:

    The effect of the bullet hitting the whiteboard or the person would be about the same but in holding the board there would be a slightly different effect in that the board would add to the total weight and there would be a dampening effect from it being held and somewhat absorbing the energy in the joints of the arms. Yet this would be minimal.

    Here is an example.

    In this video a ballistic shield is essintially freely hanging on a strap being shot by, what appears to be a 9mm MP5, a .44 magnum, and a 00 buck .12 gauge. It displays typical effects of being hit by bullets.

  44. makes about as much sense as those little parachutes for jumping out of burning buildings they came up with after 9/11.

    and don’t 1st graders have 2nd amendment rights? as long as they don’t have a prior felony.

    that’d make dodgeball real world experience.

  45. If they could simply employ mean nuns with rulers the whole situation would be solved. Perps, terrorists, burglars, robbers, et al would not want to even drive by.

  46. Here is a song from St. John & James grade school in Ferguson, MO from the early 1960s:

    Glory Glory Halleluyah,
    Sister hit me with a ruler
    I beaned her in the bean
    with a rotten tangerine…
    And school kept marching on!

    I went there in my prior life as a human before my present incarnation as a dog.

  47. [music] [To the tune of Over here over there we will hit the dustry trail]
    If a Nun should appear,
    Say Sister have a beer!
    In the cellar of Old John and James.,

  48. Schoolchildren May Soon Wear Bulletproof Military-Style Vests
    By Rebecca Leber
    Apr 28, 2013

    Post-Newtown, sales for bulletproof backpacks and whiteboards have soared as parents and school districts seek to take children’s safety into their own hands. The reaction is along the lines of what the National Rifle Association has promoted for months: that armed guards, and not gun regulation, is the answer to school shootings. Congress responded to parents’ concern by caving to pressure from the NRA and blocking the only serious federal attempt to pass gun safety legislation earlier this month.

    But if armed educators, bulletproof school supplies, and metal protectors weren’t enough, a company that offers ballistic safety equipment is marketing military-style vests for schoolchildren:

    The Denver company that supplied Jaliyah’s rucksack, Elite Sterling Security, has sold over 300 in the last two months and received inquiries from some 2,000 families across the US. It is also in discussion with more than a dozen schools in Colorado about equipping them with ballistic safety vests, a scaled-down version of military uniforms designed to hang in classroom cupboards for children to wear in an emergency.

    School districts in Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and California are already stocking up on bulletproof supplies, and one school in Maryland has amassed 80 ballistic shields in its classrooms. None of this equipment comes cheap, and the backpacks are only meant to stop a bullet from a handgun, not assault weapons like the one used in Newtown. A 2006 study of school shootings also raises questions of whether security measures like metal detectors are even effective.

    Psychiatrists warn that militarizing schools could cause long-term harm to children. “This is serving to increase their fear and their suspicion of their peers,’’ a psychiatry director told the Associated Press.

  49. Elaine,
    P.T. Barnum was right when he said a sucker was born every minute, and this story proves his point. Hopefully this too will pass, and soon. As was pointed out above, this whole gimmick is a stupid waste of taxpayer (and parent) money.

    In the meantime, some clever entrepreneurs with good marketing skills are going to make a pile of money. Money that could have been far better spent on security that actually works.

    I am still gathering data for a future story on child suicide, but my preliminary research shows that many more kids die of suicide due to bullying than from school invasions.

    The CDC reports suicide as being the third leading cause of death among young people. 4,400 school age kids kill themselves every year. For every single suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it. Those numbers are scary.

  50. Humpindog, You’re correct. However, nuns are on the endangered species list. I know a kid who goes to a K-6 Catholic school and there are no nuns. That’s becoming the norm.

  51. OS, about suicides among the young: Very worthy topic for study. There was a case about 15-20 years ago in suburban Maryland (upscale residential suburb if I am not mistaken) of two young girls (in their teens) who made a suicide pact and killed themselves together in a public park. The reporting about it was spectacularly STUPID. Even the photographs that were published in the paper (not a tabloid!) were STUPID and there was something so wrong with the whole way the story was treated. I never got over the feeling of intense discomfort about it. At one point it hit me that the despair of these two girls was a different kind of despair from that noticed among, say, middle-aged people facing “failure” in their lives, or older people facing illness and deprivation, or adults facing humiliation and public shaming. For these girls, a form of destruction had worked its way into their own self-images. They could only see themselves “well” if they exited the contamination of the real world. One of them clearly saw herself as “Daddy’s little princess” before she killed herself. I wondered whom she really was killing.

  52. Otteray,

    Regarding teens and suicide: Yesterday, I read a piece in the May 6th issue of The Nation. It touched on the rape of teenage girls and suicide. Here’s an excerpt from and a link to the article:

    In Rape Tragedies, the Shame Is Ours
    Jessica Valenti
    April 17, 2013

    It’s been just over a month since two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty of raping an unconscious teenage girl. One of the young men, Trent Mays, was also found guilty of sending pictures of the assault to friends. Since then, the media have been gripped by two more incidents in which young women were gang-raped at parties and had pictures of their attacks distributed on social media. These young women, unlike the victim in Steubenville, did not survive.

    Seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was raped by four boys at a party outside Halifax, Nova Scotia. After months of torment and scorn from schoolmates who called her a “slut,” she hanged herself on April 4. Last September, 15-year-old Audrie Pott of California—raped while unconscious at a party, also humiliated when pictures of the assault were passed around—killed herself just eight days after the rape. Three 16-year-old boys were arrested in California in April on charges of sexual assault.

    What kind of world do we live in when young men are so proud of violating unconscious girls that they pass proof around to their friends? It’s the same kind of world in which being labeled a slut comes with such torturous social repercussions that suicide is preferable to enduring them. As a woman named Sara Erdmann so aptly tweeted to me, “I will never understand why it is more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist.”

    And yet it is: so much so that young men seem to think there’s nothing wrong with—and maybe something hilarious about—sharing pictures of themselves raping young women. And why not? Their friends will defend them, as they did in Steubenville, tweeting that the young woman was “asking for it” and that the boys were being unfairly targeted.

    Women and girls are the ones expected to carry the shame of the sexual crimes perpetrated against them. And that shame is a tremendous load to bear, because once you’re labeled a slut, empathy and compassion go out the window. The word is more than a slur—it’s a designation.

  53. BURKESVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Authorities in southern Kentucky say a 2-year-old girl has been accidentally shot and killed by her 5-year-old brother, who was playing with a .22-caliber rifle he received as a gift.

    Kentucky State Police said the toddler was shot just after 1 p.m. CDT Tuesday in Cumberland County and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

    Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the children’s mother was at home at the time.

    White told the newspaper that the boy received the rifle made for youths last year and is used to shooting it. He said the gun was kept in a corner and the family didn’t realize a shell was left inside it.

    White said the shooting will be ruled accidental.

    An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

  54. Wednesday, May 1, 2013 11:45 AM EDT

    Rise of the conservative revolutionaries

    Almost half of Republicans think an armed revolution may be needed soon. What does it mean for guns and democracy?

    By David Sirota



    There’s plenty of proof of an authoritarian streak and animus toward democratic ideals in today’s conservative movement. There was the movement’s use of its judicial power to halt a vote recount and instead install a president who had lost the popular vote. There is the ongoing GOP effort to make it more difficult for people to cast a vote in an election. There is the GOP’s record use of the Senate filibuster to kill legislation that the vast majority of the country supports. There is a GOP leader’s declaration that what the American people want from their government simply “doesn’t matter.”

    Up until today, you might have been able to write all that anti-democratic pathology off as a pathology infecting only the Republican Party’s politicians and institutional leadership, but not its rank-and-file voters. But then this poll from Fairleigh-Dickinson University was released showing that authoritarianism runs throughout the the entire party.


    Of course, GOP apologists will say that the poll just asked specifically about armed revolution “to protect liberties” – the idea being that almost half of Republican voters don’t support using violence to advance their own political agenda, they only support it in the face of a future dystopian nightmare whereby the population is terrorized by police-administered drone bombings and Waco-esque invasions of private homes.

    But that’s the thing: we can’t be so sure that’s really true when conservative media voices and politicians are using the broad and incendiary language they now regularly employ. Today, those voices often claim that almost everything in the Democratic/liberal agenda – from Obamacare to taxes to environmental regulations to contraception policy – is an assault on “liberty.”

    That means the poll might indicate something much more significant than understandable opposition to Big Brother turning our country into Oceania. It might show us that all the vitriolic language employed by the right is undermining the most basic non-violent democratic ideals that are supposed to define America.
    David Sirota

    David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of the books “Hostile Takeover,” “The Uprising” and “Back to Our Future.” E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website

  55. AP or ap,

    Isn’t that exactly how the congress is supposed to react? What if a majority of folks wanted to abolish the constitution and implement a National Religion…. Do, you think that’s a good ideal? Sometimes, congress works the way it’s intended…. And the minority beliefs are implemented..

  56. Swarthmore mom,

    You beat me to it.
    Now, I won’t need to futilely argue religion with the many terrified, gun-worshiping males that populate this blog. Thanks for that.

    Coroner Gary White was quoted that the 5-year-old using his own rifle to kill his sister was “crazy.” Good word for it.

    I listened to a coroner phone someone, and ask the person what it would take to get that person to report child abuse, before the case ended up at the coroner. “Do I need to file charges against you? You tell me.”

    Coroner Gary White’s attitude is “Gee willikers, I guess [stuff] just happens, huh?”

    You can get a “Crickett” rifle for your toddler, here:

    More guns!

    Just another of my emotional, dishonest, bull-excrement, illogical, foaming-at-the-mouth, knee-jerk arguments. Not to worry, boys, I don’t want your manhood, a.k.a., your guns. Don’t need ’em. You do, obviously.

    Feel free to pick my argument apart, using “logical” terms from some long-dead language. I’ll still be right, and you’ll still be wrong.

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