America has a gun problem: the proliferation of guns in American homes has led to a largely silent epidemic of accidental shootings, intimate partner murders, and suicides.
While the sky-high fatalities from these everyday shootings are personal, quiet tragedies, the extremely public tragedies of mass shootings are both statistical outliers and rallying points for sensible gun policies in line with the rest of the world.
As welcome as the attention from high-profile atrocities is, there is danger that they will shift our focus to the extremely low likelihood that you will be shot by a deranged stranger in a public place and away from the much higher likelihood that someone you know (possibly you, yourself) will shoot you in your home.
One way this manifests is in an emphasis on "protecting" schools from mass shootings. At first, this was a minor hustle, with some petty grifters picking up small-money contracts designing "active shooter lockdown drills" for schools.
But after the Parkland shooting, the gun lobby and its purchased lawmakers came up with a new talking point: the solution to gun violence was to flood our schools with heavily armed mercenaries (or, worse yet, teachers!) who would execute would-be shooters. This strategy could be backstopped by buying all kinds of "anti-shooter" fixes, like bulletproof doors, bulletproof coffins that children could cower inside of, and Batman utility-belt gadgets like smoke cannons that could flood a school with choking, blinding clouds as a countermeasure against shooters.
This was a evilly brilliant move: by creating a "solution" that was tied to high-ticket procurements, the gun lobby created a self-perpetuating lobby machine for tooling up the schools of America — hucksters who would divert some of their profits to pressuring governments to diverting more education dollars to weapons and armor, generating new profits and thus new lobbying dollars — lather, rinse, repeat.
The hive of scum and villainy that is the tooled-up school industry is the sort of thing to make you vomit in your mouth: it is an unholy alliance of lying dickheads like "Joe the Plumber" (yes, that fucking guy is back) and a former US Army Ranger whose sales patter includes warnings that ISIS terrorists might start hurling molotov cocktails inside of schools. These military-industrial grifters are in a weird alliance with one of the Parkland parents, whose response to the tragic loss of his son is to advocate for massive school expenditures on these gadgets and guns.
It's working. Across America, the cash-starved schools are spending money they can't find for books, computers, desks, black mold remediation, art class, and other fripperies on armored doors, armed school guards, and yeah, actual literal smoke cannons.
"Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher is working with a company that incorporated two months after Parkland to sell a $139.99 "SwiftShield" that slides around a classroom door handle so a shooter cannot enter.
The company began sponsoring panels at school security conferences that featured the one-time political star. Wurzelbacher acknowledged skepticism at those conferences but said his concern is genuine: His adult son is a teacher, and he has three children ages 5 and under.
The SwiftShield barricade device, invented by a roofer, offers schools "unparalleled" safety, the company claims. It sells for one-twentieth the cost of some bullet-resistant doors or high-tech locking systems — and about 200 districts have expressed interest, Wurzelbacher said. Companies selling higher-priced security alternatives are protecting their turf when they argue barricade-style devices violate safety codes in many states, he said.
"There's going to be a lot of money to be made here," Wurzelbacher said. "I think there's a lot of people who are offering school systems an illusion of security, as opposed to real security."
AP: Lawmakers buy industry fix to protect schools from guns [Reese Dunklin and Justin Pritchard/AP]
(via Naked Capitalism)