Richmond, VA-- Following the tragic Newtown Connecticut shooting that left 27 people dead, 20 of them children, parents across the country are diligently searching for ways to keep kids safe.
One of the methods protective parents are using to protect their children? Bulletproof backpacks, designed with ballistic paneling that will stop bullets, and may save a child's life. 8News decided to put the Bullet Blocker backpack to the test.
We visited Colonial Shooting Academy in Henrico, where we took aim at the Bullet Blocker backpack with several guns to see if the bag lives up to the claims of stopping bullets from any handgun.
General Manager of the Colonial Shooting Academy Ed Coleman helped us fire a variety of guns at the backpack, including a 357 Magnum, a military-style assault rifle, and a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson.
We found that while the backpack didn't block bullets from the assault rifle, the bullets from the handguns were stopped by the ballistic paneling inside, just as the company which manufactures them claims.
Coleman reminded us that it was a handgun used in the Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 dead. He believes that the backpack, if covering vital organs, can save a child's life, and might have prevented deaths at Newtown Elementary, as well.
"Between the book and the ballistic vest, it would have saved his life.
Local mothers have mixed feelings about the bulletproof backpacks. Sue Allen of Chesterfield has two young children.
"You send your kids to school and you want them to feel safe and you want to feel that they are safe."
But despite her concerns, Allen says she won't be purchasing a backpack.
My first thought is it's sad that this would even be created."
Mother, author and CEO/Founder of Richmondmom.com Kate W. Hall offers her insight about the issue:
"It's no shock that parents are buying these, if for nothing else the sheer piece of mind that they helped provide some protection should their worst nightmare occur. And while I'm not sure I'm ready to run out and purchase potentially life-saving backpacks for my kids, I will continue to ask pointed questions about school security, talk with them about the realities of recent tragedies, and hold it open as an option for the future." Read Kate's full post here.
Some parents we contacted wondered if children would have time to grab these backpacks in case of an emergency at school. Richmond City Schools students may carry their backpacks at all times, but schools in Chesterfield and Henrico decide independently if kids can keep backpacks with them throughout the day.
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