Body Armor Backpacks – Do They Work?

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — School shootings are tragic and all too familiar in America. Tens of millions of dollars have been promised for safer schools in Tennessee and now manufacturers are responding, claiming to put protection directly on your child’s back.
 
The backpacks are available online and some parents say while they feel their kids are safe at school, they are considering something like this just in case.
 
It’s a parent’s nightmare to send his or her kids to school and they don’t come home.
 
“As a kid growing up, you never go to school thinking you’re not safe. I guess nowadays that’s all over the news,” said mom Lacresha Harris.
 
It’s all over the news and on the minds of parents, educators and leaders. The search for solutions has led to metal detectors in schools, clear backpacks and even arming teachers with guns.
 
That also includes the Guard Dog Security Proshield II, a backpack that claims to be bulletproof.

“As a casual observer, you’d have no idea that it would be bullet resistant.” said retired FBI agent John McMurtrie. “It should be something that more of a stealth mode of operating. Yeah, I’m wearing this bullet resistant backpack, but it doesn’t look like one.” 
 
McMurtrie helped determine if this is a solution parents should consider. Up against a .45 ACP pistol, the bulletproof bag has a level 3A protection, which means it should stop bullets.

When checking the backpack for damage, McMurtrie found it stopped the bullets. The rounds were still inside.  He says a student would feel the impact, but would survive.
 
“It would probably feel like they got punched in the back hard or hit by a baseball bat,” he said. “They would definitely feel it, but it would stop it.” 
 
Under the same conditions, the everyday backpack just doesn’t hold up, potentially the difference between life and death.
 
“It’s the difference between being punched in the back and shot in the back,” said McMurtrie.

The results: the bulletproof backpack protects as advertised. McMurtrie, a 20-year FBI veteran, was surprised by how it is made.
 
“It’s pretty tough material,” he said.
 
The protective layer is lightweight, but enough to stop two rounds.
 
“It tore into this, but barely. You have several other ones that are untouched,” McMurtrie said.
 
Side by side, the bags look the same, but the dramatically different protection could give a parent peace of mind. One could safe a life.
 
“If the parent has the option to buy something like that, it’s an extra level of protection for their child. If you need it and don’t have it, that’s an awful situation, If you have it and don’t need it, that’s the ideal situation,” said McMurtrie.

The backpack used in WATE 6 On Your Side’s tests retails for $150 online and was delivered from Amazon in two days. There are others with the same 3A level of protection, ranging in price from $250 to nearly $500.
 
These costs run above the average cost for a backpack, so it’s important to note that school districts in East Tennessee already have security measures in place to keep students safe every day. Some of those security measures include armed school resource officers on campus, crisis management plans practiced yearly, and monitored security cameras.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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