Since December 2012, 220 separate shootings have occurred on school campuses across the country. That number comes from an advocacy group called Everytown for Gun Safety and for the sake of full disclosure, also includes instances like suicides and misfires wherein students and teachers were not specifically targeted. Still, the frequency of active shooter incidents in the United States is unequivocally on the rise, and has prompted a 19-year-old college student to design a bulletproof skateboard to serve as a line of defense should someone find themselves in a hostile situation.
Turtle Boards, as they’re called, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring their idea to life – a skateboard made of level 3 bulletproof material capable of stopping multiple shots from a .44 magnum. Bullet proof ratings established by Underwriters Laboratory extend to level 8, but according to one bulletproof glass company, levels 1 to 3 are typical at businesses like banks and convenience stores.
Griffin Burke says he came up with the idea after the 2016 shooting at UCLA. Having just started college, he and his roommate discussed strategies for staying safe in the event of an active shooter. “It’s too bad your skateboard isn’t bullet proof because you always have it with you … and it would make a great shield,” Burke told his roommate.
That a skateboard/shield specifically designed for school shootings exists is actually kind of heartbreaking. Lawmakers are at an impasse when it comes to any sort of progressive gun legislation.
Meanwhile, school shooting events have sadly become the new normal.
Personally, I can appreciate where Burke is coming from. In seeking to develop a way to prevent meaningless deaths, his heart is in the right place. “I would like to get this skateboard in the hands of as many students as possible,” he said in an email. “If this board saves just one life it will be a success.”
But, independent of the practical arguments against a shield roughly the dimensions of an average skateboard in the heat of the moment (hold it to your head and your vital organs are exposed, hold it to your heart and your head is in danger), what kind of world is it when every kid has to go to school with a bulletproof shield in constant anticipation of a shooting? That it doubles as a fun-loving skateboard heightens the macabre.
Having a shield certainly seems better than not having one when someone has a gun pointed at you. But maybe it’s finally time to address the underlying issue so that kids don’t have to ride around campus on bulletproof glass.