Will bulletproof backpacks really protect students in school shootings?

Posted at 4:24 PM, Feb 20, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. -- As parents across the country grow more concerned every morning when they send their kids to school, more and more are turning to bulletproof backpacks.

“After Sandy Hook, people couldn’t wrap their minds around a bulletproof backpack but now they think it’s something that they need," said Yasir Sheikh, the president of Guard Dog Security.

The Sandy Hook shooting inspired Sheikh to create a backpack out of bulletproof materials. 

It doesn’t seem like much. The backpack has just a thin layer of kevlar, but it is certified to withstand handgun rounds.

“Ideally, we think with the way things are going this should become mandatory, common for all students," said Skeikh. "It’s a sad reality, it’s become a new normal."

Others feel the same. Just three days after the deadly school shooting in South Florida his company saw a 150 percent increase in the number of bags they shipped.

But do they actually work?

Ryan Hart is a certified firearm instructor for defense training company Ground Ready International Training, or G.R.I.T Ready. He also teaches active shooter survival courses.

Hart put a barrel with sand behind the backpack to simulate a body and took aim with his Glock 19.

“The rounds definitely penetrated the front of the bag here," said Hart inspecting the shot-up bag, "But if we flip it over there’s no penetration past the armor itself."

Next up: the AR-15.

In the last decade, this style of gun has been used in six of the 10 deadliest mass shootings throughout the country, including the Parkland school shooting.

“It went right through the soft armor," Hart said after spraying the backpack with bullets from the AR-15.

It's what Hart expected, as the Guard Dog Security backpack is not certified to withstand assault-style weapons. To stop bullets from a similar weapon, the backpack would need to be equipped with steel plates like those installed in military vests. However, that would make the backpack fairly heavy to carry.

“I would recommend (the backpack), yes," Hart said. "While it did not stop a direct shot from an assault rifle it can still stop bullet fragments, ricochets, glass flying through the air.”

Then we posed this question to Skeikh: "What do you think it says about our society that we are resorting to items like this?"

The backpacks cost between $100-200. Fifty percent of the proceeds from sales of the backpacks right now will go to the victim's families of the Parkland shooting.

Guard Dog Security is also looking into possibly making backpack, that would have the ability to stop assault-style weapons.