Bullet-Proof Preschoolers

Ed Raymond

There was a picture of hundreds of colorful backpacks in the Fargo Forum that were distributed to children at the Fargodome a couple of days ago. It was part of the 21st Annual 2019 United Way School Supply Drive. I wonder if any of them will end up having a “bullet-proof” insert placed in the backpack. I also wonder how many metro area parents have purchased a “bullet-proof” or “bullet-resistant” backpack for their children to wear to school. After well-publicized mass killings, sales of “bullet-proof” stuff skyrockets. El Paso and Dayton mass killings were no exception.

After the Virginia Tech shooting 12 years ago that killed 33 people, a deputy sheriff inserted body armor into the backpacks of his two children and started a business of selling inserts. It’s called Bullet Blocker. It sells bullet-proof inserts in a price range of $160 to $490. Several other companies sell bullet-proof backpacks and inserts. Guard Dog Security started in 2013 and sells backpacks for between $119.99 and $299.99. TuffyPack sells ballistic-rated synthetic fiber shields made of 24 levels of material. The shield fits most backpacks with a pack life of 20 years. It has become a popular birthday buy for grandparents. There’s lots of money to be made from our gun culture. Backpack sales increased 300% after the Parkland mass killing of Florida high school students. Some backpacks have been tested by the National Institute of Justice standard to stop 9mm and .44 magnum bullets and shotgun pellets. No backpacks are designed to stop bullets from high muzzle velocity military-type weapons such as the AR-15 and the AK-47. One Sandy Hook first grader was hit with 11 bullets from a Bushmaster. There wasn’t much left. Trauma surgeons say low velocity pistol bullets leave holes and military ammunition takes out grapefruit-sized chunks.

An examination of the last ten years of K-12 school mass killings reveals that school shootings are on the increase—and no type of community has been spared. In 2017 we had 6,200 school lockdowns because shooters were near. Practically all schools are forced to run lockdowns. All of these companies also sell “Junior Pack” backpacks designed especially for pre-schoolers ages 3 to 5. Pause and think for a minute what our gun culture is doing to our once democratic society. Then go out and buy your children some bullet-proof backpacks.

Have We Reached The Tipping Point In Attaining Control Of The Gun Culture? 

I doubt it. We are presently killing and wounding about 380 people per day with firearms. That total has not been enough to change the Republican view the Second Amendment is more important to the country than those lives. As Natalie Kellar of Eagan succinctly put it in a letter to the Tribune: “We have weighed and measured the value of human life against our right to possess and use deadly weapons, and we have decided that it is acceptable for school children, people in shopping centers, concert goers, and people just out for drink and a good time to be murdered, We’ve decided that our right to bear arms is worth more than the deaths of our citizens.” 

The interpretation of the “militia” clause by some Supreme Court justices state we have to use the “original” language of the Constitution written during musket days. Do we use the language about oxcarts to make decisions about Boeing 737s? If we had a Boeing 737 Max jetliner crash every day, wouldn’t we do something about it? A musket in George’s and Thomas’s time took almost a minute to load one round ball. The Dayton killer fired 41 rounds from a 100-round drum on his AR-15 pistol modification in 32 seconds, killing nine and wounding 27 before he was killed by police.  He had 250 more rounds in magazines—just in case. Yes, during colonial days the male adult member of a household was required to keep a musket. But at the same time he was required to be a member of a colony militia. Today the National Guard is the “militia” that guards the state. Does every citizen have the “sacred” right to bear arms as some believe? I say no.

We also have to take into consideration that the American Psychiatric Association has estimated that about 6% or our population is mentally disabled each year and requires treatment. That means almost 20 million of us are bonkers-off-the-rails each year. This year we will probably end up with about 360 mass killings. Has there ever been a mass shooter who is not off his nut? We know that 98% of the mentally ill will not grab a rifle. But each day, somewhere in America, somebody, most likely a male, grabs a semi-automatic firearm and kills and wounds lots of people. Muskets are not the choice.

 Why Do Men Make Up 98% of Mass Killers? Because They Have A History

Sometimes the reasons for men who commit mass killings, particularly if they kill themselves or are killed by others, are difficult to ascertain. We still don’t know why the Las Vegas shooter killed 58 and wounded over 800 people in ten minutes of terror fueled by ten AR-15s with bump stocks firing over 1,100 rounds in ten minutes from a hotel window. Why are military-style assault weapons usually chosen by mass killers? Because they are the most potent firearm available.. Most local militia members in the U.S. carry the black metal military types have never been in the military and fantasize about combat as they play “snoopin’ and poopin’” in the woods. The black metal implies they are not hunting tools. Machines like the AR-15 and Russian AK-47 are designed to kill many humans in a short span of time. Do they have any business being carried on the streets of America by civilians? Of course not.

 The motivations of men to use rifles of mass destruction are numerous and sometimes complex, and often include a history of hating women, often committing domestic assaults, whether on wives or girlfriends or family members. Science has shown that when you put a gun in a man’s hands his level of testosterone increases. The male hormone increases aggressive behavior. If you place a gun in this man’s hands he knows he has the power of life and death. Psychiatrists say that power of life and death is more intoxicating than any other power. This aura of absolute power over other people  recruits some men to professions that use that power, whether law enforcement, military—or gangs and the Mafia. Testosterone happens to some police officers on the streets. As the commander of a Marine Corps heavy machinegun platoon and later a rifle company, I have seen such power seduce men when they are surrounded by semi-automatic pistols and rifles and automatic light and heavy machineguns. It taught me to be always more alert when firearms are around.

Murder By Guns Is A Public Health Crisis…Keep The Flags At Half-Mast Until We Solve It

The gun culture “manufactured” by the gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association will not change until somehow military-style assault rifles with 100-round drums containing high-velocity ammunition are completely neutralized. They will continue to be the weapon of choice of mass killers. Twenty first graders murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary didn’t do it. If 58 murdered concert goers at Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock couldn’t do it, what will it take? The Dayton killer with his 350 rounds and his modified AR-15 could wipe out an elementary school population in ten minutes. Will the Senate act if five senators are killed? Congress did nothing when two representatives were severely wounded and are still suffering from their wounds. Just what is the price of the Second Amendment? Will someone in power put a price on it so we can solve this public health crisis?

It’s hard to get accurate estimates, but some experts say we now have well over 400 million firearms in the U.S., enough to present two to every women and man in the country. Experts put the number of AR-15 style weapons at 20 million—and another million are being produced this year. In the last 15 years production of such rifles has gone up 219%.

These Controls Will Be Necessary To Solve The Public Health Crisis

Is there any reason a civilian should have a firearm that fires more than six rounds without manually reloading? Six shots should be enough to drive off any intruder or kill a deer or bear. I hear some people love to hear the sound of automatic fire. I have never been entranced by the sound of machinegun fire. I have heard a lot of it. I immediately recognized Las Vegas as massacre by machineguns. Did you get the same adrenalin rush when you heard 1,100 automatic rounds fired from AR-15 bumpstocks at 22,000 concert goers in Las Vegas?

What can we do?

1. Ban the production and sale of all assault rifles for the civilian market. 

2. Ban all magazines, drums, and clips that hold more than six rounds. 

3. Ban the sale of body armor.

4. Research the issue of ammunition used in firearms,  retain ammo sufficient for hunting purposes, but ban high muzzle velocity, armor piercing, cop killer, and dum-dum ammo. Account for all ammo sold. Why did a Ohio home have 10,000 rounds in it?

5. Pass a universal federal “red flag” law.

6. Pass federal background checks for transfers of firearms, including all gun shows, on-line markets, and family exchanges.

7. Establish a volunteer buyback program for assault weapons and magazines that can be straight cash deals or income tax deductions.

8. Ban hunting with assault rifles. It’s not a sports rifle. It’s a rifle for killers.  Wasting a prairie dog with a military .223 round when a .22 civilian round will do? That’s hunting?

9. Require the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct research on guns and the costs of medical care associated with long-term wounds of the 100,000 wounded each year--and determine the costs over the decade. I bet it’s in the trillions — without even costing out loss due to absence from work. Handgun wounds cost an average $20,000 to treat, assault rifle wounds around $33,000. One high velocity military round put a civilian in the hospital for 11 months and 14 operations. 

10. Repeal the law that made gun manufacturers immune from lawsuits for negligence, faulty equipment, and false advertising.
11. Require gun owners to license and carry liability insurance on all firearms.

Yes, people kill people, but so do guns. Strict controls are absolutely necessary to eliminate   fear of attending school or public events today. Sheriff Wyatt Earp even realized this in old Tombstone where his rule was: “You can wear your gun into town, but you have to check it at the sheriff’s office, and you can’t pick it up again until you leave town.”  Violators later met Earp at the OK Corral.

I see people are training dogs to take down school shooters. The price? $100,000. They should be training Congress to take down the gun culture and the NRA.