More Schools Interested in Bulletproof Products

More Schools Interested in Bulletproof Products

As instances of mass shootings increase, particularly at “soft targets,” the interest in bulletproof products increases, with one Florida school now offering bulletproof backpack panels.

Three of the 5 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have taken place at a school or house of worship. As instances of mass shootings increase, particularly at these “soft targets,” the interest in bulletproof products increases, with one Florida school now offering bulletproof backpack panels.

Florida Christian School has never experienced gun violence, but now sells bulletproof panels for students’ backpacks through their website. The panel is made by body armor company Applied Fiber Concepts, whose owner has two children at the school and suggested the company make custom armor plates for students after attending one of the school’s active shooter drills.

The panels weigh less than a pound and can be easily slipped into students’ backpacks among their books and notebooks. In case of an active shooter, teachers are trained to instruct students to hold their backpacks containing these panels over their chests, said George Gulla, the school’s head of security.

“We want to protect our students’ center mass,” Gulla said. The panels are reportedly able to protect students from bullets such as a .44 Magnum or a .357 SIG, both pistol cartridges. Stopping rifle bullets would require heavier armor.

Florida Christian School isn’t alone, and backpack panels aren’t the only bulletproof item available, either. In 2013, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the Minnesota Rocori School District purchased hundreds of bulletproof whiteboards that could double as a shield. After the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, Massachusetts company Bullet Blocker began developing a range of products that includes bulletproof backpacks, fleeces and briefcases. Its bulletproof backpack sales spiked after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012, jumping to about 10,000 in three weeks when it normally sold 20 a week.

Rather than bulletproof armor, some experts recommend a more thorough solution. According to school security expert Kenneth Trump, schools should focus on training and planning rather than spending “limited resources” on “a security product for every possible need”.

"The first and best line of defense is a well-trained staff and student body," Trump said. "If you need a bulletproof backpack, don't you need a bulletproof front pack, headgear, and bulletproofing the rest of your body down to your toes?"

Gulla said he would rather be prepared for the worst and thought the backpack inserts might assuage the worries of some parents.

“It’s not required. But if it gives you extra peace of mind,” Gulla said. “It’s out of the norm, but what is the norm?”

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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