COLUMN: Thoughts and prayers isn’t enough


Ellen Dooley, Columnist

I saw an ad on YouTube the other day. It was not for the next big video game or an extravagant pair of shoes. It was for a bulletproof shield that slips into a backpack. A shield that is supposed to protect students from getting shot in school. The ad depicted a parent who lost their child in the Parkland shooting in 2018. The parent regretted not getting the shield for their child. They said that the shield could have saved their child’s life from getting shot.  

This backpack shield is from the company Byrna Technologies Inc. This company also sells non-lethal self-defense items like CO2 “launchers,” pepper spray, and accessories that can be used as an alarm to scare off predators. Looking at the item mentioned in the ad, this item is not very accessible to all. The 10 x 12 is 150 dollars, while the 11 x 14 one is 180 dollars. How are we supposed to protect students when the price of this gear is inaccessible to all?  

We live in a world where inventors are creating products that protect students from getting shot. Where students and teachers alike fear for their lives going to school. Where students must practice active shooter drills and teachers spend their professional development days learning how to apply or create a tourniquet. Not to mention teachers creating hiding spots in their classrooms and keeping blunt force objects in their closets.  

What is next for our country? Will we break this cycle? We need more than simple Facebook posts of “thoughts and prayers.” But what does this change entail? Well, that is a good question. There are many suggestions and things that need to be accomplished before we create a real change. Of course, gun reform and mental health are big components. But both sides of the aisle need to come together to protect our schools.  

Gun reform is a big issue, but also our political leaders do not always want to touch that issue. Obviously, the process to own a firearm needs to be in-depth and mental health evaluations should be necessary. Yearly, or bi-yearly evaluations of a firearm owner should be implemented to make sure those who own a firearm are still capable and have a clean background.  

Obviously, there are root problems that escalate to these mass tragedies. But every time a mass shooting happens, people fight for change for about a week or two and then talks fade. This time is different. This time people need to finally put their foot down and make waves to protect these innocent children just trying to go to school like thousands of other students across the country.  

As a future educator, I should not be thinking about how many ways I can save my students and escape a building. I should not be thinking about how I am going to tell parents that I could not save their child’s life during an active shooter situation. I am done. I know many others are too. Our country needs to stop tiptoeing around the problem and figure out things now.  

Ellen Dooley is a sophomore special education standard major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]