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Why Doesn’t Gun Violence Lead to a Demand for Bulletproof Clothes?

Stylin’ bulletproof suit absorbs small-arms fire

Garrison Bespoke weaves nanotech into a snazzy suit that looks sharp and keeps bullets from getting through. -CNet

 This past year, Garrison Bespoke worked alongside suppliers for the US 19th Special Forces in developing the custom bulletproof suit. Using nanotechnology, it’s comprised of the same carbon nanotubes designed for the US troops’ uniforms in Iraq. Yet, the patented suit material is a lot thinner and flexible; fifty percent lighter than Kevlar (the material commonly used in bullet-proof gear). The entire suit acts like a shield, with nanotubes in the fabric hardening to block force from penetrating through. – Garrison Bespoke

After every major shooting the media contact gun sellers in the area who gleefully report, “Sales have gone up!” They explain, “People are buying guns for protection.” Because as we all know from the NRA, the answer to gun violence is more guns. This conveniently sells more guns.

GO HUSBAND GOThe NRA, like all trade associations, want their clients (in this case gun manufacturers) to sell more product.

What if there was a trade association that believed that protecting people from gun violence should be just that–protecting people from the bullets that come out of the guns. Their products would provide a different answer to the question, “What can we do about gun violence?”

When buying a gun people say, “It’s for protection.” But if you dig deeper you find that meaning isn’t complete. Meanings range from, “It makes me feel safer.” to “I feel more powerful and in control when I’m carrying it or have it handy.” and even to, “It allows me to imagine killing bad guys and being the hero.”

A handgun will give you protection from incoming bullets if they happen to shoot you in the holster area. However it does protect you if by showing it you stop someone from shooting at you.  I’ve read dozens of examples of this in American Rifleman. “I showed them my gun and they walked away.” Ta da! It worked! Score one for a powerful visual, a bad guy who could see it and who will back down. I completely acknowledge this protection effect.

But imagine after a major shooting if the National Body Armor Association (NBAA) came forward and said, “We clearly aren’t going to do anything about getting rid of guns in the US, so let’s do something right now about protecting people from bullets. Check out our new lightweight bulletproof body armor and our low-cost conventional body armor.  For less than the cost a fancy gun you and your loved ones can be protected. No licenses to get, no classes to take and no deadly accidents waiting to happen.” Conveniently, talking about this after a shooting would sell more of their product.

“But Spocko, isn’t this taking advantage of peoples’ fear to sell products without addressing the underlying issues?” you ask. Why yes, yes it is. Let’s think about another group that makes money by using fear to sell products. They seem pretty successful. I suppose saving lives in this passive way is weak or in bad taste. I can hear the critics now,  “What about head shots?!  Stop politicizing body armor! The bodies aren’t even cold and you are trying to sell stuff that would prevent people from dying in the same situation. Sick! This is just a prelude to grabbing guns, because if you think you are safe with body armor you won’t carry a gun, but without the gun you can’t stop the bad guys from shooting all the people who aren’t wearing body armor! Argle bargle!”

For some, having a handgun acts as a talisman. It changes the way you “feel” when walking in a dangerous area. Now I’m all for talismans to evoke attitudes, but as we learn from history, a handgun isn’t going to stop a bullet, especially when you aren’t expecting it. If people were to start wearing bulletproof clothes it would be more than just a talisman, it would actually protect them. And because it is defensive, and not offensive, it wouldn’t necessarily lead to escalation.

Now I could go into all the pros and cons of body armor, but instead I want to bring up something that a gun gives people that no life-saving body armor can. Having and carrying a gun can give people years of enjoyable fantasies about using the gun. Sure you said you bought it “for protection.” but the cool things is you can constantly write yourself into the role of hero with a gun. With body armor you just keep living, and who wants that? Boring! I mean what’s Iron Man without the ability to shoot stuff back? The best defense is a good offense, good guy with a gun, yada yada yada.

All these thoughts were triggered (ha!) by the above article. What does it trigger in your head? Shoot me a line with your thoughts.

Now the National Body Armor Association doesn’t exist. But if they did at least the media could talk to someone who can make money on gun violence, while also saving lives. And isn’t making money what’s it’s really all about? With that kind of money they could make selling body armor they could hire me to be their spokesperson. I think I’d look good in one of those suits. Next up, a bulletproof fedora.

Creative Commons Image from Cherie Priest

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