Clear bags after US school shooting

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Student returning to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in the US with a clear backpack - part of a new policy to combat school shootings, 2 April 2018

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A student poses with her new bag

Students at the school in Florida where 17 people were killed in a shooting in February have returned to class for the first time with transparent bags.

The new measures were announced soon after the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

The shooting led to pupils launching an extensive social media campaign, culminating in a national march for tighter gun laws last month.

But students have argued that the new bags will not prevent future attacks.

The new rules about the clear rucksacks, which were provided to students for free, came into effect on Monday as classes resumed after the spring break. Other security measures announced last month include mandatory new ID badges for students, with plans also in place for airport-style security scanners .

A number of security breaches were reported in the weeks following the killings.

The gunman’s brother was charged with trespassing on the school grounds and three students were arrested – two for carrying weapons and one for making threats on social media.

Students have doubts about the backpacks for several reasons.

Logistical challenges

Some said that the bags would not have prevented the 14 February attack, as the gunman was not a student at the time, while others pointed to the logistical challenges the bags pose, with over 3,000 students at the school.

One pupil argued that more wide-reaching reform is needed.

Gun lobby’s influence

Some of the students attached a symbolic price tag to their new bags to protest against payments made to lawmakers by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The tags were initially posted on the March For Our Lives website ahead of the demonstrations on 24 March. The students see the NRA funding as “blood money”.

According to the march’s organisers, the amount, $1.05 (75p), represents the total received by Florida Senator Marco Rubio from the NRA divided by the number of students in the state.

Privacy and theft risks

One of the most immediate reactions to the new policy was the lack of privacy for students, with some saying that they felt like “prisoners”.

Issues were also raised over the effect the new bags would have on girls carrying sanitary products, or students with personal medication.

A clear-bag policy has been in operation elsewhere in the US. Following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, the NFL announced that only transparent bags would be allowed into stadiums for games.

When similar rules have been introduced in other school districts, there have been fears that students could be at risk of theft, as their possessions are clearly visible.

However, some reacted with humour.

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