Should Your School Require Bulletproof Backpacks?

In case you need another reason to scream into a void about how broken our country’s gun laws are, please meet the bullet-proof backpack. Made by a company called Guard Dog Security, these backpacks are aimed at protecting children as mass shootings in schools continue to be a high-profile (and deadly) problem. It is also a reminder that, despite the rallying cries of “never again” and moving, powerful action of survivors at Parkland, parents from Sandy Hook, and so many others, we are still no closer to addressing the real source of school shootings.

Many current safety measures, like active shooter drills and metal detectors, have been shown to create a false sense of security and not actually effectively protect kids. It seems that these backpacks, which are actually marketed as “bullet-resistant,” are another sad example of that. Without playing a macabre game of “what if,” the backpack would clearly only protect the wearer from the back if they happened to be wearing a backpack at the time of an active shooter. According to a report on the bags for CBS, they are also only able to stop a .44 handgun but not a high-velocity rifle like the AR-15, used at mass shootings like  Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and Parkland. And, even if these were some how really effectively protecting children, let’s talk about the price. They start at $120 and go up to $300, making even the minimal protection from guns a luxury to parents and children who can afford them.

It would be easy to brush this off as a fringe response to a growing problem, but these backpacks are already showing mainstream acceptance. People are spotting them for sale at Office Depot. Some reports have said the backpacks have been spotted online at Target and Walmart as well, though a product listing on Walmart for the Guard Dog backpack is down, implying the mega store may have pulled the listing.

While evidence points to the fact that it is strict gun laws, not safety measures like these, that save lives, we continue to make glacial progress at comprehensive gun reform. Even states with relatively strict laws can take the recent shooting in Gilroy, California as an example of how local laws can only do so much. Until federal laws become truly strict, no backpack, no matter how bullet-resistant, will protect our kids.

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