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The Marjorie Stoneman Douglass students are back at school this week, and their victimization is far from over. After a break due to the massacre, and then spring break, they have resumed classes, but of course, all is far from normal. In addition to all the media attention and celebrity, new security measures instituted at the school include the now required use of clear backpacks. Many of these students who would gladly send their fellow Americans to prison for owning an AR-15 (the most popular firearm in the country), are outraged at this imposition on their precious liberty.
Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times reported that Broward Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie announced that only clear backpacks would be permitted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The backpacks will be issued by the county, along with photo identification cards which must be displayed at all times by students and staff, and that “[t]he school also is exploring consolidating entry points, having staff use metal-detecting wands and potentially installing permanent metal detectors.”
Can you spot the common thread through all those safety measures implemented in the wake of Nicholas Cruz’s Valentine’s day massacre of 17? None of them individually or collectively would have stopped or impeded the murders. What’s the point then? To make the administrators and parents feel better about “doing something,” never mind the ineffectiveness? Our greatest impotence is shown in the face of death. Dealing with that is crushing, but rejecting freedom will not yield a safety benefit.
The students know this. Lauren Hogg tweeted “I feel sooo safe now,” mocking the new rules. She’s the younger sister of our nation’s most prominent national gun control spokesman, high school senior David Hogg. He has declared that while there is no Second Amendment impediment to gun bans, there are constitutional rights to opaque backpacks. According to Mr. Hogg, if you want the state to continue to honor the Second Amendment you are a “child murderer.” Students who want to carry opaque backpacks, however, are “having essentially their First Amendment rights infringed upon because they can’t freely wear whatever backpack they want regardless of what it is.”
We Hold These Truths to Be Self Evident
Mr. Hogg overflows with passion but unfortunately is a bit short on consistency. How it can be so clear that the founders’ vision for our natural born rights include the right for minors to carry opaque backpacks into government buildings, but not for adults to possess modern rifles was left unsaid. His failure to be consistent on this issue is shared with many who can clearly see how restricting and punishing those who have done nothing illegal or wrong will not yield safety benefits.
Unfortunately, too often after these kinds of tragedies, the response is to prioritize and further embed invasive security measures and increased law enforcement presence, surveillance and activity in schools throughout the country. The impulse to police school communities will not prevent further tragedies and will be counterproductive towards building safe, nurturing, and supportive learning environments.
That’s not from the NRA; it’s from the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a coalition including the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, etc. One wonders how they can see the implications of emotionally driven rapid implementation of invasive new rules in school, but not society at large. Gun owners are using the identical rationale to oppose new gun controls.
The clear backpack is a perfect analogy to the gun control proposals the favored students are pushing. It would not have stopped the incident that led to its creation, will add no real security benefit, and will simply serve to inconvenience, embarrass, and frustrate those who have done nothing wrong. If history is our guide, we can expect to see zero arrests of would-be school shooters due to this requirement, and many instances of students being suspended, expelled, etc. for having Advil without a prescription or a Swiss Army knife. The same is true for bump stock bans or any of the rest. Perhaps superintendent Runcie could add some required classes in logic and critical thinking to the post-massacre bundle of changes. That would have some tangible results.