Clear backpacks not the solution to gun violence

Amy McNeel

Following the massacre that left 17 people dead, new safety measures have gone into effect at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD). These safety measures include identification badges, barricades, bag checks and, most controversially, a requirement for students to carry clear backpacks. Since these measures have gone into effect, many Douglas students have shared their frustrations, and their message is plain and simple: Clear backpacks are not a solution to gun violence in schools. 

As many MSD students have voiced, the idea behind required clear backpacks is all wrong; transparent bags are just a sad Band-Aid solution for a very real problem. In the specific case of Douglas High School, the shooter was not a current student, and the AR-15 wouldn’t have fit in a backpack anyway. Ultimately, if clear backpacks had been required during the time of the shooting, the outcome would not have been any different. These bags have been distributed to create a false since of safety, which Douglas students, quite literally, see right through. 

These students want to feel safe. They do not want to feel suppressed or monitored. The school should have offered therapists, not clear backpacks, and the government should tighten gun laws, not provide pathetic, useless “solutions.” By requiring clear backpacks, they are seemingly blaming the students. 

In response to these safety measures, many MSD community members have taken to social media. On Monday, April 2, Carly Novell, a student at MSD, tweeted, “These backpacks don’t protect us. We aren’t any safer than we were before. Now, it’s just more complicated.” On the same day, a mother of an MSD student posted a picture of her son wearing his clear backpack with the caption, “If we’re not going to do anything about our lax gun laws, then my son needs a bullet proof backpack, not a clear one.”

While the intentions for clear backpacks may have been good, this so-called solution is severely underwhelming and provides practically no benefits. However, if MSD students have shown anything in the last couple of months, it is that they are resilient, innovative and empowered. 

Instead of silently conforming to the new safety measures, Douglas students are using the backpacks to protest. On Monday, April 2, MSD student Jaclyn Corin tweeted, “Thousands of clear backpacks were donated to MSD…it’s a shame b/c they should’ve been given to a school that actually needs the supplies. But since we’re stuck with them, I decided to make the most out of the situation & decorate!!” This caption came with a picture of her backpack decorated with a “March for Our Lives” sticker and a plethora of buttons. 

This was only the start. Since then, many students have decorated their backpacks and have been posting pictures of them on social media. “March for Our Lives” leader Cameron Kasky filled his backpack with tampons to denote the backpacks’ violation of privacy, and many other students have filled theirs with strongly worded messages, such as “This backpack is probably worth more than my life.” 

After all of the protests and pleas for change, the only change MSD students received was clear bags. A clear backpack cannot shield someone from a bullet, and it cannot save lives. We need to stop creating Band-Aid solutions and start fixing the real problem at hand. MSD students, as well as all other students, deserve to feel safe at school. They deserve more than transparent backpacks.