NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fears of school shootings have sparked an increased demand for devices to protect children. Sales of bulletproof backpacks have surged and major retailers including Walmart and Office Depot are putting them on their shelves.
Alarmed by the number of school shootings, Maya Rockafellow sent her son off to first grade with something new — a backpack that doubles as body armor.
“It’s just happening more and more,” Rockafellow said. “It’s terrifying.”
As CBS2’s Kenneth Craig, reported, the “Bulletsafe” panel is a $99 insert that can slide into a backpack. It weighs 1.5 pounds and is made from the same material as a bulletproof vest.
“I just wanted something that he could have on him,” Rockafellow said. “When I described to him what it was I said, ‘This will actually help you if you hold on to it.'”
Demand for bulletproof backpacks is on the rise. Bulletsafe sales have jumped more than 600 percent since last year. Other companies have reported increases as well.
CBS2’s Craig took the Bulletsafe panel to the Rockland Indoor Shooting and Education Range in Pearl River, New York, where instructor Scott Vignola put it to the test.
As advertised, it stopped a .45-caliber handgun round and a shotgun slug.
“Worked very well, without a doubt,” Vignola said. “It did stop this from penetrating, absolutely.”
But it was no match for an AR-15. The round when through the panel, and three books.
“It definitely did not stop this bullet. It’s not made to,” Vignola said.
Craig then tested backpack armor from Veterans MFG. It’s built to block rifle rounds, but is 3.5 pounds and costs $300.
That one not only protected against an AR-15, but also an AK-47.
“The actual pain that’s equal to what you just got hit with with a bullet is approximately equal to getting hit in the chest with a 5-pound sledgehammer,” Vignola said. “But you’re going to be going home alive.”
The one Rockafellow bought isn’t rated to stop a high-powered rifle but she said there is a sense of comfort knowing her son does have some protection.
“I’m just glad he has it with him,” Rockafellow said.
And she hopes he never has to use it.