Some blame lack of gun control for clear backpacks

Clear backpack 2" by Kylio is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED.

It’s a shame that something like clear backpacks even exists. It really is a shame and I think that’s something almost all of us can agree with.

They’re ugly and in an era when kids are required to wear school uniforms for so much of the time, backpacks are a rare place for individual expression.


Unfortunately, requiring clear ones removes that.

And why? Because some people take guns to school.

Yet it seems that some people have a problem with an effort to keep students safe.

When Asher Sheneman started kindergarten last year in Grand Rapids, he picked out a backpack that showcased two of his greatest loves: Super Mario Brothers and outer space. It featured Nintendo characters on a background decorated with stars. He adored it.

When Asher starts school Tuesday, he’ll swap his Super Mario bag for one with a lot less personality: a clear backpack with orange seams. After officials at his Michigan district recovered guns on middle and elementary school students four times last year, they temporarily banned backpacks. Now they are pushing students to carry clear ones. Chelsea Sheneman, Asher’s mother, decided to buy it despite her mixed feelings.

“I am glad that the school is trying something, anything,” said Sheneman. “It feels better, I guess, than just hearing about [the guns] and them sort of throwing up their hands and not doing anything.”

For some, the clear backpacks are just another prop in school security theater — an answer that does little more than put adults at ease. Critics say it has come to symbolize the lengths decision-makers will go to avoid passing meaningful gun control, a knee-jerk answer to the call to “do something” after a tragedy. Supporters of these measures say that they could deter students from bringing weapons to school, even if they don’t stop them altogether.


Now, obviously, I’m more likely to agree with the latter group here.

However, with those who think the clear backpacks represent a failure to pass gun control, there’s a lot to address.

For one, let’s remember that people who make the determination on clear bookbags are generally people who aren’t in a position to do anything about gun control. These are local school officials, after all. What else can they do? Ban guns on school campuses? That’s already in place in a lot of these places already.

As for gun control somehow being the answer, I just ask what laws do these folks think will address the problem.

Kids can’t buy firearms, for one thing, so raising the age or something won’t address the problem.

Carrying a gun to school is already illegal, particularly for kids, so passing another law won’t address the problem.

Universal background checks won’t do anything because, as noted, the kids aren’t old enough to buy a gun in the first place.

Most of these are handguns, so an assault weapon ban won’t do anything.

In fact, there’s not a single gun control under current consideration anywhere in the nation that would address this problem. So how is a clear backpack requirement really just a thing because gun control won’t pass?


Even if we passed everything the anti-gun side said they wanted right here and now, there would still be a problem of kids bringing guns to school–probably enough of one to warrant clear bookbags being required in many places.

Then again, rational people tend not to see gun control as the answer in the first place, so none of this should be shocking.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member