In the eight years since our first date, I’ve always bought my husband flowers and chocolate for Valentine’s Day. (Matt displays the flowers and I eat the chocolate.) But if the seditious attack on the nation’s Capitol taught me anything, it’s that I need to up my game in the Valentine gift-giving department. This year, he’s getting a bullet-proof vest.
Now that Donald Trump—who used his power, privilege, and social media following to encourage the storming of the Capitol building—is (mercifully) out of office, it may seem like the threat of insurrection is a thing of the past. But these crazed QAnon elements are not going anywhere anytime soon. Some of the cult’s most vile adherents, like freshman congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, have somehow found an elected seat from which to spew their dangerous rhetoric. It’s clear that, as Trump licks his wounds at Mar-a-Lago, we still face a reality where people radicalized by the far-right-wing internet feel empowered to take to our streets and openly threaten violence against elected officials.
Even still, my husband thinks investing in expensive combat gear is ridiculous. But I see such precautionary measures as an act of love—and a life insurance policy.
Matt and I are newlyweds; it took me 39 years and countless lapses in judgement before I found the love of my life. He works as a legal administrator in a government building in Michigan’s Capitol. Credible threats of domestic terrorism leave me terrified that our swing state’s increasingly virulent QAnon population could one day make me a widow. So I’ve found myself scouring tactical gear websites and Amazon reviews for the kinds of goods that could possibly save his life someday—pieces that can be concealed under his suit or discreetly stored in his office.
The choices feel endless. Some vests are designed to stop bullets while others are only able to protect against knives. Who knew? There’s also the option of “stab” and “spike” protection. Apparently, sharp edges and spikes are totally different things in the world of protective gear. And then there’s the issue of hard material versus soft—this selection depends on external conditions like the weather, and also personal preferences for comfort. And finally, there’s the question of multi-threat armor, forcing me to guess the myriad ways that armed, horn-and-fur-wearing radicals could threaten Matt and his colleagues when it’s time to return to the office.
Gas masks, pepper spray, goggles, and other accessories necessary to defending oneself against insurrection present even more dizzying options. It’s easy to spend an hour or more sorting through bullet-proof vests alone; I have my work cut out for me if I’m going to make an informed purchase in time for Valentine’s Day.