America is no stranger to school shootings, especially when considering the most recent past few decades. The most historic and prominent tragedies easily roll off peoples’ tongues: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech. The list goes on and, many fear, the list will continue to go on until a bipartisan solution to gun violence in the country is found. In the meantime, a Florida school is preparing for the worst by selling bulletproof panels for students’ backpacks.
Florida Christian School is offering its ballistic panel for $120 through the school store. The panel is meant to turn kids’ backpacks into shields in the event of a shooting, reports USA Today. The panel was created by Applied Fiber Concepts, a body armor company owned by a parent of a student currently attending the school. According to Applied Fiber Concepts, the inserts can stop a bullet from a .44 Magnum and a .357 SIG type gun, but not from a rifle. Florida Christian School’s head of security, George Gulla, interviewed with the Miami Herald, stating:
“It’s just a tool. I’d rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying, ‘Wow, I wish we would’ve done that.’ We thought, yeah, let’s offer it to anyone who wants it. It’s not required, but if it gives you extra piece of mind…”
In emergency drills preparing for the case of an active shooter inside the school, students are taught to hold their backpacks containing the panels over their chests, reports the Washington Post.
Backpacks are not the only bulletproof product of interest to students and parents alike, also reports the Washington Post. After the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, Bullet Blocker, a Massachusetts company, began developing a range of bulletproof products such as fleeces, briefcases, and even binder inserts. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, as well as the Minnesota Rocori School District, bought hundreds of bulletproof whiteboards in 2013.
While the response to the bulletproof backpack inserts has been generally positive, not all are approving of the product. School security expert Kenneth Trump is among the most outspoken against the use of bulletproof products in schools, reports CNN.
“The first and best line of defense is a well-trained staff and student body. 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? [While these products are well-intentioned they are not] well focused for a child-centered enviornment.” – Trump, CNN
What do you think? Are bulletproof backpacks the best safety measure America can take in schools knowing the country has a gun violence problem? Or are they explicitly stealing the innocence of children and frightening them beyond measure before they can even learn the product of two times two? Let us know your thoughts.