SHIELDING YOUR CHILD: Parents pay big bucks for bullet-resistant backpacks

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) It’s the harsh reality in an era of school shootings, making it an easy decision for some parents who will do whatever it takes to give their child a fighting chance. 

“When it comes to determining life or death for our students and my kids, personally, I’m all for it and having it {armored backpacks} in our schools,” said Aaron Lopez, who has two children. 

On store shelves, parents are finding bullet-resistant backpacks at retail giants like Office Max and Office Depot.

Other retailers like Walmart and Bed, Bath & Beyond offer the backpacks online. 

More parents across the state seem to think an item like this is necessary. 

“It’s your child’s life. Our daughter goes to UT. There’s enough crazy things that happen on that campus. I’d be willing to get her one,” said Carl Morse who has two daughters.

In the past year, manufacturers like Bullet Blocker are reporting a dramatic increase in sales, up by nearly 400%, but does the product live up to the hype?

Guard Dog Security is the brand sold by Office Max and Office Depot. 

According to the label, the backpacks are resistant against bullets fired by firearms like a 9 mm handgun and a .44 Magnum.

The key protective component is kevlar mesh sewn into the back of the backpacks.

“It’s designed to stop the penetration,” said Adam Campbell, a firearms instructor. 

He helped test the durability of the backpacks. He used a 9 mm at 15 feet, and the bullets did not make it through the protective kevlar. He then tested the backpack with a .44 Magnum and had the same result. 

However, when Campbell tested the backpack’s resistance to an AR-15, the bullet went straight through the back. 

That’s why Superior Firearms in Tyler offers even more protection, bullet-resistant panels that fit inside backpacks. The highest grade claims to protect against high-velocity rifles, like the AR-15.

Their crew personally tested the backpack armor panel with an AR platform. Their results showed a strike mark but no penetration, a stark contrast from using a textbook as a shield.

When they shot the textbook with the same rifle, there was a clear entrance and exit hole. 

However, bullet-resistant panels are sold with different levels of protection. A panel that is rifle-resistant will easily cost more than $200.

It’s a price one East Texas grandmother is willing to pay, for all three of her grandchildren. 

“It gives me peace of mind knowing they at least have a chance to get away if there’s a shooting at their school,” said Tracy MaGee.

Another option recently introduced to the market, bullet-resistant metal plates.

ReadyToGoSurvival.com is an online store based in Austin. The description on the website says the plates protect against multiple rounds of 9 mm handguns and .44 Magnum hollow point ammo.

Employees of the online store trust the product so much, they say their own children carry these plates in their backpacks.

“Unfortunately, this is the world we live in, and I want my kids to have the same protection the law enforcement in our community use and have them come home every night,” said Adam Handelsman.

Whether a parent chooses the bullet-resistant backpack, removable panel or metal plate, experts say, it won’t do any good unless you teach your children how to use it. 

“If you’re in an active shooter situation your first instinct should be to run away from this scenario. Take the backpack, yank it over your head and cover your vital organs,” said Yasir Sheikh, President at Guard Dog Security.

Parents say just the thought of buying a backpack that could one day save their child’s life sets a somber tone for the new school year. 

“Considering when we were growing up, it was all about who had the coolest backpacks and Five Star binder, and now you’re having to consider having bullet-resistant backpacks,” said Lopez.

It’s a back-to-school decision parents everywhere never thought they would need to make.

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