I was more than a little shocked the other day when I learned of the existence of bulletproof backpacks. It’s enough to make even the biggest optimist worry about the fate of our species.
Bullet Blocker Products, which proudly bills itself as “an American company,” is selling a $239 children’s backpack with a bulletproof panel installed. The panel itself is lightweight and rated to stop “357 Magnum, 44 Magnum, 9mm, .45, hollow point ammunition and more!”
As the instructions say: “Hold pack between yourself and the shooter using the shoulder straps as handles. Use as a shield to provide cover for upper torso and head whenever possible. While taking shelter use pack to protect yourself in the direction of the threat. While running away, hold pack high on your back or in the direction of the threat to protect your head and upper torso (vital organs).”
The backpack is, of course, a reaction to the horrific school shootings that happen now and again. While the larger discussion around how to prevent such tragedies centres on gun control, Bullet Blocker is apparently trying to be pragmatic about the situation.
Fortunately, a testimonial on the company’s website from Julio is merely speculative and not based on first-hand experience. “My decision for the purchase is quite simple, unfortunately, we live in an unpredictable and dangerous society,” he writes. “I have chosen to provide my family with every opportunity to survive an unexpected life threatening attack.”
But lo, Bullet Blocker isn’t the only company selling such products. Backpack Shields doesn’t make full bags, but it does supply inserts that go into them. As a photo on the site shows, the insert has been “Shot over 30 times,” with “No penetration from 9 mm, 44 magnum, 40 caliber, etc.” Curiously, the products are also “proudly made in the United States.”
Safety experts wonder about the practicality of such products, noting that they may not be all that well thought out. One told NBC news: “I would ask this question: If you need a bulletproof backpack, wouldn’t the child also need a bulletproof front pack and a helmet and a Captain America shield?”
Personally, I can’t decide whether bulletproof backpacks – and even bulletproof classroom whiteboards – are a good, practical idea or whether they’re a sad commentary on our society. Probably both.