Five years ago, the idea of a bulletproof backpack or vest for a child was pretty much unheard of and until recently body armor had no place in schools.
The 2007 Virginia Tech massacre changed all that as did the rise of the survivalist movement and reinforced backpacks became popular. And, after the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, Dec.14, the sale of children’s bulletproof backpacks and vests has sky rocketed, as parents and others search for ways to keep children safe at school.
The trend is not surprising says retail analyst Marshal Cohen, as backpack sales total more than $1 billion a year. In the past five years, manufacturers aggressively diversified offerings to move more of the product. Since the country’s second-worst school shooting ever, business has increased exponentially at the half a dozen or so companies selling bulletproof backpacks and vests for children.
Elmar Uy of BulletBlocker thought his computer software was malfunctioning when his Website traffic jumped tenfold on Friday, Dec. 14. When he turned on the news the day of the Sandy Hook shooting, it all suddenly made sense. Uy says his company is struggling to keep up with demand for bulletproof backpacks for children. On a good week, Uy said they usually sell 15 to 20 backpacks, but since the shooting, its 50 to 100 a day.
A Colombian company in Bogota is launching a designer line of child-size bulletproof clothing in a variety of colors, at a cost of several thousand dollars apiece. According to Miguel Caballero, his designer bulletproof clothing adorns many heads of state and executives around the world, especially in Mexico and other Latin American nations.
Amendment II, a body armor manufacturer in Arizona, offers more conspicuous child-sized bulletproof vests for $500 and bulletproof backpacks for $300. The company began making bulletproof backpacks six months ago when a string of parents requested them. In recent days, sales of children’s bulletproof backpacks — Avengers for boys, Disney princesses for girls — have risen more than 500 percent and they cannot keep up with orders. Amendment II is donating a portion of sales to the fund for the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims.
The LaRue Tactical Backpack of Austin, Texas, offers a bulletproof shield that fits inside regular-size book bags.
On a different note, the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana is heading in a different direction, restricting children from wearing bulletproof vests to school. (Read about it.)
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