Whether it’s elementary, middle school or high school—all students need a backpack. With the growing number of deadly mass shootings in public places, parents are opting for a piece of mind with bulletproof backpacks or inserts. While an active shooter on their child’s campus is a possibility no parent wants to face, this possibility is becoming an increasing reality. This is why many parents are opting to purchase bulletproof backpacks or inserts to protect their children in the event of a school shooting. By no stretch of the imagination are bulletproof backpacks the long-term solution to school shootings. However, they may be the first line of defense against an active shooter.
Since the Valentine’s Day school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, companies selling bulletproof backpacks or inserts have seen a significant increase in sales. For example, BulletBlocker CEO Joe Curran said company sales increased by 400 percent since the shooting. Another ballistics company, Kincorner saw bulletproof backpacks and inserts increase by 1,000 percent from June to July.
The Rapid Rise in Mass Shootings
A major influence in the rise in bulletproof backpacks or inserts sales is the rapid rise of mass shootings. It’s true when it comes to gun violence; public mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of the nation’s gun violence deaths. But their fractional death toll doesn’t make them any less terrifying because they occur anywhere and without warning. Over the past decade, mass shootings have grown in frequency and devastation. In fact, the five deadliest mass shootings have all occurred within the last decade—with the deadliest occurring just last year.
The F.B.I. defines a “mass killing” as the killing of three or more people in a public place. Also, the federal agency defines “mass murderer” as someone who has killed four or more people in the same location.
Can gun makers be held liable for mass shootings?
Since 2005, gun manufacturers have legal immunities that prevent them from being sued for crimes committed with the weapons they sell. Starting in the 1980s, victims of gun violence began filing civil claims against gun manufacturers and retails stores after suffering injuries from violent incidents or losing loved ones. As a result, many of these victims won notable victories against the gun industry.
That all changed in 2005 when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The law was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by then-president George W. Bush. The PLCAA came in response to a slew of lawsuits that cities filed against the gun industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The lawsuits typically claimed that gunmakers and sellers were engaging in negligent marketing or created a public nuisance.
Are Bulletproof Backpacks Legal?
Bulletproof backpacks are legal in the United States. Body armor such as bulletproof vests and plate carriers are legal to own and wear in all 50 states. This also applies to other ballistic gear such as bulletproof backpacks and inserts.
Residents of Connecticut and convicted felons are prohibited from purchasing bulletproof vests online. Further, most bulletproof backpacks inserts are banned by TSA for use on planes.
Will a Bulletproof Backpack Protect My Child in School Shooting?
Bulletproof backpacks and inserts are made to protect against handguns and shotguns.According to FBI data, 56% of gunmen in shootings used handguns, whereas 27% used rifles. However, because they are made of Kevlar fabric, a strong thread that is densely woven, backpacks and inserts will not protect against popular semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.
The National Institute of Justice(NIJ) has a rating system for body armor. To fully protect against AR-style rifles, backpack armor would need to have metal plates. These metal plates can weigh between 3 and 10 pounds. It is important to remember that no armor is ever considered 100% bulletproof.
Criticism of Bulletproof Backpacks
As kids head back to school this year, many parents are wondering how to keep their children safe. As of August 2019, there have been at least 58 incidents of gunfire on school grounds. Many parents feel that this is a sign of the times. Others see ballistic shield backpacks as a disturbing sign of how willing Americans are to accepting gun violence as the norm.
Critics of ballistic shields in backpacks say that parents are having a knee-jerk reaction to guns in schools. There have been several criticisms of ballistic shields in backpacks.
Students Can’t or Won’t Use Them
Critics of ballistic shields in schools say that the application is impractical. In many schools, children don’t typically have their backpacks nearby. Further, critics say that children won’t have the mental presence to hide behind a backpack. In addition, these critics say students will likely not make sure they have their backpacks when running away from a potential threat.
Bulletproof Items are Ineffective
In addition to AR-15s being obtained legally by several mass shooters, they are the most popular gun in America.
As noted above, kevlar isn’t an effective shield from rifle weapons, a common weapon used in mass shootings. When ballistics experts have performed tests on the effectiveness of backpacks, they have found that the backpacks perform well with stopping bullets from a handgun. However, the sheer force of .45 caliber round can still do damage even if the bullet does not penetrate.
More Effective Environmental Strategies
Other critics feel that students should feel safe in school. They also say that more needs to be done at a legislative level to ensure student safety. These critics support “common-sense strategies” to ensure mass shootings in educational settings don’t occur.
For example, many critics support reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons. Between 1994-2004, gun massacres fell by 37 percent. Further, the number of people dying from gun massacres dropped by 43 percent. However, after the ban lapsed in 2004, there was a 183 percent increase in killings and a 239 percent increase in gun massacre deaths.
Other Bulletproof Accessories
Bulletproof backpacks and backpack inserts aren’t the only accessories ballistics companies are outfitting with bullet-resistant materials. Schools began opting for whiteboards over chalkboards in the mid-1990s. But as gun violence on campuses across the country has increased, whiteboards can now serve as a shield to protect teachers and students from an active shooter on campus. Other bulletproof accessories available for students and parents needing a piece of mind include:
- Bulletproof classroom doors
- Bulletproof jackets
- 3-Ring binder insert
- Bulletproof binders
- Backpack armor (rifle threat protection, 8lb metal plate)
- Bulletproof seat cushions
- Bulletproof tablet cases
A Guide to Back To School Safety
While bulletproof items may give parents peace of mind, they don’t address the increasing number of mass shootings in this country. A mass shooting can happen anywhere at any time. But, gun violence has no place in our schools. While there are many ideas about what should be done to protect our students from the threat of a mass shooting, there has yet to be any action on protecting students in classrooms.
The Carlson Law Firm stands by victims of gun violence
We will fight tirelessly on your behalf to hold at-fault parties responsible. Our qualified attorneys can answer your questions about school safety and who is responsible in the event of a mass shooting tragedy. We offer free consultations and are available 24/7. If you lost a loved one or were injured in a mass shooting, contact the dedicated team of attorneys at The Carlson Law Firm.