Recent school shootings have left many people fearful for their children's safety. As pushes are made for gun regulations and school security updates, some parents are finding more immediate peace of mind through bulletproof backpacks for their kids.
Manufacturers of such products have said sales tend to spike after events like Wednesday's shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead, according to Q13 Fox in Seattle. Florida's Guard Dog Security started selling bulletproof backpacks after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut in 2012 and has seen consistent sales and increases after other tragedies, The Cut reports.
In November, Florida Christian School gave parents the option to buy $120 armored backpack inserts, a Miami-Herald article reported.
"We do see an influx of interest in items like this when something like this happens," Macon resident Donn Rodenroth said of the company he works for, Fisher Scientific, which provides equipment for first responders, military, law enforcement, fire departments and others. "It is a product that could save kids' lives. They could use their bookbag as a shield. They can wear it if they're running away,"
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Fisher Scientific sells bullet-proof backpacks with panels of soft or hard armor in the back. They look like regular backpacks, and a mid-line product costs $250-300. Rodenroth said they're specialty products that aren't normally carried in retail stores.
However, a search on Amazon listed several bulletproof backpacks and separate panel inserts for bags, starting at about $115. The bags' high costs can be attributed to the bulletproof material Kevlar that's used, according to The Cut.
The special bags and inserts work the same way that law enforcement officers' bulletproof vests do, Rodenroth said. Soft armor protects from handgun rounds while hard armor is designed to stop both handgun and rifle rounds.
"You can never be too prepared," Rodenroth said. "You have to find a balance. You can't send your kid in with a helmet, but (a bulletproof backpack) is something that's covert and it's something that could make a difference."
Rodenroth has ordered bulletproof backpacks for his three children who are still in school, two in college and one in high school.
The backpacks could be useful in certain situations and would provide a sense of protection, knowing they could be used as shields, Mercer University sophomore Felice Watson said. But, she didn't like the price tag on them.
"It's very sad that we need bulletproof backpacks," said Hanah Scott, a sophomore at Mercer.
Daryl Patterson, who's daughter is in fifth grade at Alexander II Magnet School, didn't like the idea of bulletproof backpacks. He was afraid the bags could become targets for shooters. He said more focus needs to be placed on improving security practices, such as through clear backpack policies and the addition of metal detectors.