Do bulletproof backpacks work? Experts, parents raise concerns

·2 min read

With the uptick in mass shootings, some parents are sending their kids off to school with bulletproof backpacks.

“When Uvalde happened my daughter had just graduated from Pre-K. I grieve for those parents, " Michael Garza, a parent said.

The backpacks include a soft armor panel that is inserted into the back of the bag.

Law enforcement officials at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center tested the backpacks out by placing them onto a mannequin and shooting the bags with various guns.

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The front of the bag is covered in clay to represent the chest cavity of a human.

The first weapon used to test was a 9 mm handgun.

“The handgun, it actually did stop the round, we don’t see any penetration through the clay,” Kevin Angell with Georgia Public Safety Training Center said.

They fired more shots with the same gun. Again, the rounds did not make it through the back of the panel.

Next was a submachine gun.

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Impacts on the front of the backpack were clearly visible but did not exit through the bag, according to Angell.

The last weapon tested was an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle.

This time, the rounds passed through the backpack, its contents and through the soft panel into the chest cavity.

“The impact is going to be a lot more devastating,” Angell explained.

The company that makes the soft panel inserts, Spartan Armor Systems, said the panel is not made to stop bullets like those that come from an AR-15.

“In this test the level IIIA backpack armor did its job in stopping handgun rounds, as it’s rated up to .44 magnums.” Damien Black, Chief Marketing Officer of Spartan Armor Systems said.

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Regardless of the results, some parents said they would not buy this for their children.

“I don’t believe that they would work in a real world setting in which somebody is intent on causing harm to elementary school kids,” Garza said.

Melissa Martin, a parent at the Cobb County School District in Georgia, added she doesn’t feel like its children should have to be responsible for their own safety.

“I’m very resistant to the notion of putting any sort of ownership on our children to protect themselves in schools. I feel like that’s our job as adults,” Martin said.