With little political action on gun control, parents are apparently buying up bulletproof backpacks to protect their kids from school shootings.
A reasonable society, in response to repeated and devastating school shootings that take the lives of innocent kids before they have the chance to grow up, would pass new gun laws to keep such events from ever happening again. Our society, instead, has left parents to buy their children bulletproof backpacks and hope for the best.
According to a report from TMZ, sales of bulletproof backpacks have been through the roof since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers. Citing data from Leatherback Gear, an armored backpack manufacturer, TMZ said sales are up by over 800% in recent weeks. Another protective backpack brand, TuffyPacks, said sales spiked by 300%, with purchases coming from all over the country. A third company, Guard Dog Security, told TMZ that it has received increased interest from retailers like Lowe’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods that are interested in putting bulletproof backpacks on their store shelves.
This has been the trend in America in recent years. A mass shootings strikes a community, leaving some dead, some injured, and many more traumatized. It captures our attention for a fleeting moment, because the tragedy can’t be ignored, but it quickly becomes clear that nothing will actually be done about it. No new legislation will pass, no new restrictions will be put in place, nothing will be done to secure our communities or to protect our most vulnerable citizens. So people look for solutions on their own.
Following a spate of mass shootings in 2019, a CNN report found that bulletproof backpack sales shot up by up to 300% across the country. A similar spike happened right after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; per CNBC, bulletproof backpack manufacturers saw sales double and triple in the wake of that tragedy.
There isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that bulletproof backpacks would help much in the case of a school shooting. They offer some protection, particularly against handguns, but testing done by NBC News showed that the bullets of an AR-15 still rip through the armor. There are logistics questions, too: Are kids wearing their backpacks most of the day? Is the additional weight of an armor plate a burden to carry around for a fourth grader? Given that most bulletproof backpacks retail for $200 to $500, are they even feasible for most families to buy?
It’s hard to fault parents for buying into this trend. They are concerned about their children and they are looking for any solution that may provide safety — even just a little, even just an illusion. But bulletproof backpacks are not a solution to our school shooting epidemic. They are, at best, a Band-Aid — and at worst an admission that we’re never going to take real action. This is the reality we’ve decided to live with: one where backpacks aren’t for books, but for body armor.