Shopping for back-to-school supplies tends to include items like pens and notebooks. But with school shootings an increasingly common concern for teachers and students, some parents are deciding to get their kids bulletproof backpacks.
Between 2000 and 2013, nearly one-quarter of all of the 160 mass shooting incidents took place in a school or educational institution, according to the FBI. Meanwhile, schools have taken measures toward gun control on campuses, including installing metal detectors, outfitting classrooms with shatterproof windows, and hiring more monitors to keep an eye on common areas and suspicious activity. Even after the fatal shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, sales of products like bulletproof doors and windows surged. But all that security may not be enough—some parents have decided to outfit their children with bulletproof backpacks, as well.
Several manufacturers make bulletproof backpacks meant to protect against shotgun and handgun bullets. Florida-based Guard Dog Security specializes in non-lethal personal security and self-defense products. Guard Dog President Yasir Sheikh says “demand has definitely gone up” in recent years, and says that sales often increase after a school or mass shooting. This summer, he says, Guard Dog has seen further sales uptick due to parents making a proactive decision to send their children to school with built-in bag protection.
Guard Dog has partnered with a number of online retailers to make its bulletproof backpacks ubiquitous on retail shelves. Walmart.com and Amazon stock the company’s products, as well as brick-and-mortar stores, including Home Depot, which sells Guard Dog Security’s Proshield II bag in its back-to-school supplies for $142. This is the first year Office Depot is offering the line of bags for sale on its website from $131 up to $199. The company is also in the final stages of partnering with Bed Bath & Beyond to sell the bags, says Sheikh.
To make a bulletproof backpack out of a regular knapsack, a number of companies offer bulletproof inserts and panels that slip into school bags, including BulletSafe, which sells bulletproof products such as bandanas and vests in varying sizes and styles for humans and canines. BulletSafe’s stock bulletproof backpack insert retails for $99.