Companies like Guard Pet Security, TuffyPacks and Bullet Blocker are marketing bullet-resistant backpacks for kids in time for the back-to-school shopping season. However critics argue they are using catastrophe as a marketing opportunity and exploiting parents’ worst fears.
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Safety is high on the minds of lots of moms and dads, especially after two back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio that left 31 people dead.
” Times have changed,” said Yasir Sheikh, founder and president of Skyline U.S.A., that makes Guard Dog Security items like pepper spray and stun weapons and began using bullet-resistant backpacks called ProShield Scout for children in 2015. “Our product is in reaction to that. It’s an unfortunate reality.”
Sheikh stated the bullet-resistant knapsacks are preferred and sold out numerous times after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 individuals dead.
Steve Naremore founded Houston-based TuffyPacks in late 2015 after his child, a fourth-grade instructor, told him about the frequency of active shooting drills for her students. His company produces some bullet-resistant knapsacks but the bulk of his service remains in removable ballistic guards that are inserted in backpacks.
Naremore states his backpacks could be the difference between suffering “lethal versus non deadly” injuries.
” It acts as a protective guard, “stated Naremore, noting sales of the guards tripled in the days after the mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso last week that eliminated at least 22 people.
But some moms and dads question the motives behind such companies.
” The only people enjoying it are the people selling the backpacks,” states Ponnell Scroggins of Milwaukee, a father of 6 kids, ages 3 to14 “They’re making lots of cash right now. And they’re doing it off of something that was extremely regrettable.”
TuffyPacks markets its products on its website with mass shootings in mind: “Are you and your household protected in case of a school or office shooting? Be gotten ready for the worst scenario with the market’s best ballistic guards!”
And its knapsacks don’t come cheap. TuffyPacks’ guards range in cost from $129 to $149 Skyline’s ProShield Scout knapsacks are priced at $119, although it’s less than the adult version that tops at $199
Some likewise called into question the knapsacks’ security and how much they can actually protect children.
Both Watchdog Security and TuffyPacks declare their items are checked in independent labs in line with the standards for the National Institute of Justice and satisfy the requirements for a Level IIIA rating. That means the shields can prevent a 9-millimeter pistol and a.44 magnum. Naremour states it resembles using a cops vest.
But the National Institute of Justice– the research, advancement and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice that creates the ranking– has itself never performed tests on these items or licensed them and for that reason can not attest them.
” Marketing that declares NIJ screening or certification for such items is false,” stated Mollie Timmons, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
The knapsacks also don’t secure against military-style weapons, which were utilized in a number of mass shootings including Parkland in addition to Sandy Hook Grade School in Connecticut, in which a shooter killed 20 children and 6 educators in2012 Sandy Hook remains the most dangerous mass shooting at either a high school or elementary school in U.S. history.
Greg Shaffer, a former FBI agent and a specialist in domestic terrorism, notes that the majority of active shooters utilize handguns. Nonetheless, bullet-resistant backpacks might not be efficient due to the fact that children frequently have to leave their knapsacks in cubbies in homeroom so they wouldn’t have them with them if there were an active shooter. Not numerous kids are shot and eliminated going and coming to school, he added.
” I just don’t believe that for the cash and the extra weight that it is a lot more reliable in securing kids,” he stated.
For the a lot of part, major sellers like Walmart and Target appear to be staying away from the knapsacks. Both discounters said they do not sell them but decreased to comment further.
An Amazon spokesperson said it doesn’t offer bullet-resistant backpacks either and indicated its policy that bans offering body armor and any product that includes bulletproof or ballistic helmets and clothing.
On The Other Hand, Workplace Depot, Inc. carries Guard Pet Security products in choose Office Depot and OfficeMax stores across the U.S. in addition to online while Homedepot.com brings ProShield knapsacks. The bulk of the selling, nevertheless, appears to be from small independent online merchants like Bulletproofzone.com.
” Big chains are reluctant to bring them since of the liability problem,” stated Craig Johnson, president of Consumer Development Partners, a retail consulting company. “I don’t see it as a mainstream kind of item.”
Previously this week, Walt Disney Co. required TuffyPacks to stop selling bullet-resistant inserts including Disney princesses, Harry Potter and Avengers characters from its line.
” None of these items were authorized by Disney, and we are demanding that those behind this stop using our characters or our other copyright to promote sales of their product,” stated a Disney representative in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
Naremore states he has pulled all of the Disney-themed items.
Educational professionals state bullet-resistant backpacks are not the solution.
” Schools should be safe sanctuaries where kids can feel protected, not hardened battle zone where they’re dressed like soldiers preparing for fight,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest instructor’s labor union, in an emailed declaration to The Associated Press. “If merchants are going to sell these items, they need to likewise step up to require real, effective solutions to gun violence, consisting of controling tougher policies on weapon sales and buyback programs to assist get unlawful guns off the streets.”
Still, the makers of bullet-resistant knapsacks have taken advantage of a fear that is genuine. And for parents feeling defenseless and searching for a response, the backpacks provide them with one.
Marisol Rodriguez of Milwaukee said she is thinking about purchasing one for her 13- year-old boy.
” It should not have to come to the selling bulletproof backpacks,” she said. “That simply goes to reveal what type of society we live in today.”
AP Writers Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C. and Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, added to this report.
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