Will Bulletproof Backpacks Protect Your Kids (and Their Homework) From Gunfire?

| by Dabney Bailey

There’s no debate whether or not bulletproof backpacks are popular in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. The real question is if they’ll actually work in a life or death situation. Investigative reporter Michelle Sigona of HLNTV put these protective packs to the test by taking them to the gun range and squeezing off a few rounds.

The results were actually rather promising. The Bullet Blocker, a backpack allegedly capable of stopping rounds from an assault rifle, lived up to its advertising. It also stopped bullets from a 9mm.

Other backpacks weren’t quite as impressive, but that was due to design rather than any sort of manufacturing flaw. The backpacks come in a variety of strengths, with some being resistant to assault weapons and others designed to stop small arms fire. The lower-caliber backpacks offer poor protection against high-powered weapons like a semiautomatic XM15, which Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Despite these bullet resistant backpacks performing well, the reporters at HLN raised questions about the real life effectiveness of these backpacks. Mike Brooks asked, “You going to wear two backpacks to school every day? One in front, one in back?” These backpacks obviously only offer limited protection, but they may very well protect a child who is fleeing from a rampaging gunman. Most children stow their backpacks in lockers during class hours, however, meaning that a child won’t have access to his backpack during the bulk of a school day.

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Are these backpacks bullet resistant? Absolutely. Will they save your child’s life? That’s a statistic that’s much harder to measure. But with these backpacks selling at around $200 to $500 each (the Bullet Blocker is available online for $269.99), that may be a small investment that many parents are more than willing to make. Students, on the other hand, might not be quite so enthusiastic about the bullet-resistant hardware. With some of these backpacks weight as much as nine pounds, students might appear even more sluggish than normal as they trudge to school in the morning.