Parents buying up bulletproof backpacks for students - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Parents buying up bulletproof backpacks for students

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INDIANAPOLIS -

The same backpack that usually carries books when your child enters school has a new purpose - protecting your student from gunfire.

Tests show a backpack under fire, from a nine-millimeter handgun, then a .40 caliber and a .45 caliber gun. Each time, the person firing the gun pulls out a notepad inside that doesn't have a scratch.

Bulletproof backpacks are already on the market with your child's safety and your peace of mind as the pitch. But since last week's school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, online body armor companies like BulletBlocker.com are seeing quadruple the number of sales of the protective backpacks.

"It certainly tears at your heart and, certainly, in light of what happened last week, I can understand why there would be, a parent might feel better about spending $300 or $400 on one of these," said Chris Clapp with U.S. Uniform.

Clapp's company sells body armor to police.

"The most common vests worn by officers are Level 2 or Level 3A," Clapp said.

According to Bullet Blocker, that's the same kind of protection the backpacks offer.

But Clapp says even the backpack or a common police vest would have been no match for a military caliber rifle like the one used at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 students and six adults.

Only the kind of protection used by SWAT officers would have helped.

"A plate like this would stop a center-fire rifle cartridge," Clapp said, showing a backpack. "Can you imagine a six-year-old kid, lugging this thing around?"

Body armor experts say nothing is really bulletproof, only bullet-resistant, and shot at close range, several times, even the backpack's armor can be penetrated.

"They can only take so many hits before they shatter," Clapp said.

Still, he can see why parents are racing to order the backpacks, but thinks there are other choices.

"For the cost of every one of these vests, if you were to give one to every kid, you could hire a couple of off-duty police officers to, you know, work security at the school," Clapp said.

Sales, though, show parents are taking matters into their own hands.

Some parents told Eyewitness News they thought the backpacks were a great idea. Others questioned the feasibility of using them for protection, when most students have to hang their backpacks in the closet when they come to school.

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