Firms like Guard Canine Safety, TuffyPacks, and Bullet Blocker are peddling bullet-resistant backpacks for youngsters in time for the back-to-school buying season. However critics argue they’re utilizing tragedy as a advertising alternative and exploiting mother and father’ worst fears.
Security is excessive on the minds of many mother and father, particularly after two back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio that left 31 individuals lifeless.
“Occasions have modified,” stated Yasir Sheikh, founder and president of Skyline USA, which makes Guard Canine Safety merchandise like pepper spray and stun weapons and began providing bullet-resistant backpacks referred to as ProShield Scout for youngsters final 12 months. “Our product is in response to that. It is a unhappy actuality.”
Sheikh stated the bullet-resistant backpacks are very fashionable and offered out a number of occasions after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, faculty taking pictures that left 17 individuals lifeless.
Steve Naremore based Houston-based TuffyPacks in late 2015 after his daughter, a fourth-grade trainer, advised him concerning the frequency of energetic taking pictures drills for her college students. His firm produces some bullet-resistant backpacks however the bulk of his enterprise is in detachable ballistic shields which can be inserted in backpacks.
Naremore says his backpacks might be the distinction between struggling “deadly versus non deadly” accidents.
“It acts as a defensive defend, “stated Naremore, noting gross sales of the shields tripled within the days after the mass taking pictures at a Walmart retailer in El Paso final week that killed not less than 22 individuals.
Making the most of parental fears?
However some mother and father query the motives behind such corporations, a few of which have been within the protecting faculty backpack enterprise for awhile.
“The one individuals having fun with it are the individuals promoting the backpacks,” says Ponnell Scroggins of Milwaukee, a father of six youngsters, ages three to 14. “They’re making loads of cash proper now. And so they’re doing it off of one thing that was very unlucky.”
TuffyPacks markets its merchandise on its web site with mass shootings in thoughts: “Are you and your loved ones protected within the occasion of a faculty or office taking pictures? Be ready for the worst state of affairs with the business’s finest ballistic shields!”
And its backpacks do not come low cost. TuffyPacks’ shields vary in worth from $129 to $149. Skyline’s ProShield Scout backpacks are priced at $119, though it is lower than the grownup model that tops at $199.
Questioning security claims
Some additionally solid doubt on the backpacks’ security and the way a lot they’ll actually defend youngsters.
Each Guard Canine Safety and TuffyPacks declare their merchandise are examined in unbiased labs according to the requirements for the Nationwide Institute of Justice and meet the necessities for a Stage IIIA score. Which means the shields can thwart a 9-millimeter handgun and a .44 magnum. Naremore says it is like carrying a police vest.
However the Nationwide Institute of Justice—the analysis, improvement and analysis arm of the Division of Justice that comes up with the score—has itself by no means carried out exams on these merchandise or licensed them and due to this fact can’t vouch for them.
“Advertising and marketing that claims NIJ testing or certification for such merchandise is fake,” stated Mollie Timmons, a Justice Division spokeswoman.
The backpacks additionally do not defend towards military-style weapons, which have been utilized in a number of mass shootings together with Parkland in addition to Sandy Hook Elementary College in Connecticut, during which a gunman killed 20 youngsters and 6 educators in 2012. Sandy Hook stays the deadliest mass taking pictures at both a highschool or grade faculty in U.S. historical past.
Greg Shaffer, a former FBI agent and an professional in home terrorism, notes that almost all of energetic shooters use handguns. Nonetheless, bullet-resistant backpacks will not be efficient as a result of youngsters typically have to depart their backpacks in cubbies in homeroom so they would not have them with them if there have been an energetic shooter. Not many youngsters are shot and killed going and coming to highschool, he added.
“I simply do not suppose that for the cash and the additional weight that it’s way more efficient in defending children,” he stated.
Promoting protecting backpacks
For essentially the most half, main retailers like Walmart and Goal appear to be staying away from the backpacks. Each discounters stated they do not promote them however declined to remark additional.
An Amazon spokeswoman stated it does not promote bullet-resistant backpacks both and pointed to its coverage that bans promoting physique armor and any product that features bulletproof or ballistic helmets and clothes.
In the meantime, Workplace Depot, Inc. carries Guard Canine Safety merchandise in choose Workplace Depot and OfficeMax retail shops throughout the U.S. in addition to on-line whereas Homedepot.com carries ProShield backpacks. The majority of the promoting, nonetheless, appears to be from small unbiased on-line retailers like Bulletproofzone.com.
“Large chains are hesitant to hold them due to the legal responsibility difficulty,” stated Craig Johnson, president of Buyer Development Companions, a retail consulting agency. “I do not see it as a mainstream kind of product.”
Earlier this week, Walt Disney Co. demanded TuffyPacks to cease promoting bullet-resistant inserts that includes Disney princesses, Harry Potter and Avengers characters from its line.
“None of those merchandise have been licensed by Disney, and we’re demanding that these behind this cease utilizing our characters or our different mental property,” stated a Disney spokesperson in an emailed assertion to The Related Press.
Naremore says he has pulled the entire Disney-themed merchandise.
Instructional specialists say bullet-resistant backpacks aren’t the answer.
“Colleges ought to be protected sanctuaries the place children can really feel safe, not hardened conflict zones the place they’re dressed like troopers getting ready for battle,” stated Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Academics, the nation’s second largest trainer’s labor union, in an emailed assertion to The Related Press. “If retailers are going to promote these merchandise, they have to additionally step as much as demand actual, efficient options to gun violence, together with regulating more durable rules on gun gross sales and buyback applications to assist get unlawful weapons off the streets.”
Nonetheless, the makers of bullet-resistant backpacks have tapped right into a concern that’s actual. And for fogeys feeling helpless and searching for a solution, the backpacks present them with one.
Marisol Rodriguez of Milwaukee stated she is contemplating shopping for one for her 13-year-old son.
“It should not have to return to the promoting bulletproof backpacks,” she stated. “That simply goes to point out what kind of society we dwell in as we speak.”
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