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Bulletproof Back-to-School Backpacks

As summer unofficially ends and kids head back to school post Labor Day consider this: among the many items on parents’ back-to-school list are pens, pencils, highlighters, graphing calculators, paper – and for some, bulletproof backpacks.

And, here’s a personal confession: I really, really wish I hadn’t thought about the need to buy one for my kids.

There are companies that sell them online for $100 or more and there are plenty of parents actually buying them. I wish they didn’t have to think that they were necessary.

In our crazy gun society, mental illness is always the excuse for mass shootings, including school shootings. But, there’s no conclusive evidencethat the U.S. has more mentally ill people than other countries, but we do have far more guns. In fact, there are 326 million people and 393 million guns in the United States. Yes, you read that right. There are nearly 70 million more guns than people in the United States.

It’s not mental illness that’s the problem. It’s easy access to guns and lack of sensible gun control legislation.

A Department of Justice studyof 2,655 homicides in 1988 drawn from a “representative sample” of 33 of the largest counties in the United States revealed that 4.3 percent of the assailants had a “history of mental illness.”

Yet, mental illness is usually the default justification for mass shootings in America and our politicians, beholden to the powerful and well-funded gun lobby, are remiss to pass basic background check legislation that the majority of the U.S. population supports. Because “Second Amendment Rights” are more important than American lives -- than childrens’ lives.

I can’t say I’m completely surprised that seven years after Sandy Hook the massacre of 20 children still wasn’t enough to prompt sensible gun control legislation. After all, like everyone else, I’ve witnessed the constant refrains of “thoughts and prayers” and “one lone mentally ill shooter” cycle through the news reports at regular, alarming intervals.

I’ve been alternately heartbroken and enraged that, still, no action has been taken to address the issue: the rampant and ridiculous fanaticism gun culture in America.

And the message is unmistakably clear: Your angry, irrational neighbor’s right to own as many guns as he can buy has been and will always be more important than the safety of the public. Of your kids, of my kids, of all of us.

I wish I could make sense of it…. but right now, I’m just trying to make room in the budget for a couple of those backpacks.

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