Bulletproof backpacks are being sold by major retailers and the question is, are we ready?
They’ve been around for years, but search Walmart online and you’ll now find these backpacks have made it mainstream.
Steve Naremore is from Houston and designed the TuffyPack, an insert and backpack meant to halt bullets from as close as three feet away.
“Basically we take what a police officer wears on a daily basis which is a level three soft armor,” Naremore said.
The inspiration came in 2016 for Naremore. His daughter is a fourth grade school teacher, and after realizing how many drills kids were asked to take part in, he asked himself if there were any products out there protecting kids.
“It’s kind of like being the fire extinguisher salesman. You hope you never have to use it,” Naremore said.
At Shiloh Gun Range, they carry the backpacks and inserts, but it’s not something you’ll easily find on other store shelves.
Naremore says the liability insurance required for retailers to carry these inserts, usually keeps big box stores from taking the gamble and stocking their shelves. Instead they rely on online driven sales.
Jeff Sanford is the general manager at Shiloh Gun Range, and the man we asked to put the backpacks to the test.
Using both full metal jacket and hollow point bullets, Sanford fired round after round into the insert. We stood just about ten feet away and when the dust settled, only small entry holes were seen. On the other end, no exit holes.
The design features 24 layers of material closely resembling Kevlar. Neither bullet penetrated beyond two layers.
As Naremore explains, nearly 90 percent of all his sales are to parents.
KHOU mental health and wellness expert Bill Prasad calls it “a sad state of affairs.”
He continues to say, “it’s almost like the child is carrying the ills of society on his or her back.”
As he describes it, this is more about the depth of the problem than it is about the solution. Both Naremore and Prasad agree the lack of attention on other areas like mental health, forces us to rely on band aids to the real issues.
“Most of these kids have been going through these lockdown drills for years, but what choice do we have at this point? We have to explain what could go wrong and how to protect yourself. We can’t ignore it,” Prasad said.
What it means for parents, before you click and buy, talk to your kids.
For young kids, compare the backpack or insert to a life preserver. It’s something that will help keep you safe, but it does not guarantee safety.
Prasad says it’s a conversation that must also continue within the schools who will have to address if these backpacks have a place in their districts.
“This is a piece of equipment that’s never been brought to school, so the schools need to be involved in a conversation on how it might change the drills and how it might change the emergency reactions,” Prasad says.