While violent crime in the United States continues to decline, technology continues to try and find ways to combat the current violence we have in this country. For better or worse, bad things can happen almost anywhere and at any time.
So, it’s not surprising that a handful of companies have sprung up to meet the demand for using this tech to protect what matters most to us, our children.
Lori Alhadeff is haunted by the fact that she did not send her 14-year-old daughter to school with a bulletproof backpack. The mother of three had wanted to buy one but never got around to it. By Feb. 14, 2018, it was too late. Her first child, Alyssa, was fatally shot trying to hide under a classroom table at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. “I wish to this day that I did give that protection to Alyssa. It could have saved her life,” Alhadeff says. “Obviously, I regret that.”
After the massacre, which killed 16 others, Alhadeff bought bulletproof backpacks for her two sons, who are now 14 and 12. “I have peace in my heart for my two boys, at least, that I’m doing everything in my power to protect them,” says Alhadeff, who won’t let her sons go to school without the backpacks.
With more than 69 people killed so far in mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019, thousands of Americans like Alhadeff are seeking security through an explosion of products marketed to those scared of being shot or of losing loved ones to gun violence. Backpacks that double as shields are sold by major department stores, including Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond. There are bulletproof hoodies for children as young as 6; protective whiteboards and windows; armored doors and anchors designed to keep shooters out of classrooms; and smart cameras powered by artificial intelligence that alert authorities to threats. In Fruitport, Mich., officials are building a $48 million high school specially designed to deter active shooters, with curved walls to reduce a shooter’s line of sight, bulletproof windows and a special locking system.
The free market is a wonderful thing. It’ll put out products that will make it possible to minimize the actual threat to children and keep a lot of people employed in the meantime.
However, it seems not everyone is OK with this. Among them, Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts.
In 2017, U.S. schools spent at least $2.7 billion on security systems, and that’s on top of the money spent by individuals on things like bulletproof backpacks, the IHS Markit consulting firm reported. Five years ago, in 2014, the figure was about $768 million, IHS said. But school shootings haven’t decreased in frequency, and critics of the growing industry in bullet-resistant items say the only beneficiaries of these so-called security measures are the people making money off of them.
“These companies are capitalizing on parents’ fears,” says Shannon Watts, a mother of five who founded the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action following the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.
Oh, that’s rich coming from a woman who jumps on every shooting she can find to prattle on about how dangerous it is all the time so the donations can keep rolling into her group.
She literally capitalizes on parents’ fears just so she can get a paycheck, for crying out loud. That’s her entire schtick. That’s why she freaks out over relatively innocuous firearms. That’s why she continues to associate with a group that uses a BS definition of “school shooting” despite having been criticized for it over and over again.
The fact of the matter is that Shannon Watts and the gun-grabbing movement is predicated almost exclusively on “capitalizing on parents’ fears” in the wake of actual school shootings.
For her to criticize companies that are providing protective clothing and bookbags simply because there’s a demand for it is ridiculous. You might as well claim restaurants are just capitalizing on people’s hunger. It may be factually accurate, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong to do so.
What bothers Watts, however, is that these companies are allowing parents to take proactive steps to protect their children instead of sending money to groups like hers and voting the way she wants them to. Plain and simple.
After all, look at her quote here:
But with efforts at gun control legislation stalled as the Senate refuses to take up a House-passed bill that would require background checks for private gun sales, even critics of the booming security industry concede it’s unlikely to slow down. “There’s not a parent in the country who isn’t worried that their child will be the next victim of gun violence,” Watts says.
Actually, I’m not particularly worried that my children will be the next victim of gun violence. We don’t live in a particularly dangerous neighborhood and school shootings are remarkably rare, even if they’re horrifying when they do happen. I’m more worried about my kids being injured in a car accident, truth be told.
But Watts doesn’t like that. She wants parents worried. She can manipulate worried parents.
These products? They reduce the worry, and she doesn’t like that.
So, she’ll fling around her hypocrisy and pretend that she represents the only responsible option for parents.
I think I injured myself laughing at the possibility.