Bulletproof panels for students' backpacks put to the test

Online, you can buy a ballistic shield to place in a backpack or other bag. It is a way to send your child off to school with protection and to make their backpack bulletproof. (KCTV5)

It is a sad reality that mass shootings continue to make headlines.

They happen at movie theaters, schools, nightclubs, concerts and even churches. That is why bulletproof clothing and products are becoming popular items to buy.

Online, you can buy a ballistic shield to place in a backpack or other bag. It is a way to send your child off to school with protection and to make their backpack bulletproof.

To test the shield, KCTV5’s Ellen McNamara brought it to Corinne Mosher at CenterFire Shooting Sports in Olathe.

For about $120, you can buy the shield online from a company called Tuffy Packs. It is one of a few companies that sell this type of product. It weighs about one pound.

“I was really impressed that even though the size of the shield was quite large, in my opinion, it didn’t really add all that much extra weight,” Mosher said.

Mosher knows all about bulletproof vests. She is married to a police officer. She is also a mother and the director of dducation at CenterFire.

“It’s the National Institute of Justice rated 'IIIA,'so that means that it should withstand pretty much all common pistol calibers,” Mosher said about the shield.

For the test, Mosher set out four guns.

“We’re going to have a .380, which is considered the lowest or smallest caliber viable for self-defense,” Mosher said. “We’re then going to go to a 9mm, then we’re going to go to a .40 caliber, and then we’re going to end with a .45 caliber pistol.”

The company did not say the shield will be effective with an assault rifle, which is why the test only involves these guns.

Mosher stands at close range to truly test the backpack insert. The shield is secured to a dummy and then Mosher starts firing. She fires the .380, the 9mm, then the .40 caliber and finally the .45 caliber. As she goes up in calibers, the reaction on the target is stronger.

Mosher examines the back of the shield and the dummy.

“There’s no damage to the back of the vest, and the bullet would be trapped inside the layers of material here,” Mosher said. “It is not going to feel comfortable if you’re the one behind that. But you’re going to be alive.”

So the shield performed just as the company said it would. The backpack insert comes with instructions, training advice and results from a test.

Schools already do training for lockdowns, but is this product an overreaction?

“It’s not an overreaction, because it’s a fact that evil people hurt children and teachers in schools,” Mosher said.

During the experiment, Mosher had an idea.

Textbooks are often carried in backpacks or available in classrooms. So she grabbed a large stack of magazines to see what would happen when she fired at them inside of a backpack.

“It will mimic thick textbooks or paper stacked together,” Mosher said. “These are good because they’re tightly bound.”

The stack is also heavy.

Mosher shot the same guns and aimed them in the same direction she did during the first test. The backpack filled with magazines were secured onto the dummy.

Mosher fired the .380, the 9mm, the .40 caliber and finally the .45 caliber. When she removed the magazines from the backpack, there was a pleasant surprise.

The magazines absorbed all four bullets. Not one bullet went through the back of the backpack.

“That is pretty telling and it’s pretty encouraging actually,” Mosher said. “Pretty encouraging to say that you can stack tightly bound magazines….. and its going to give you not only potentially excellent protection, but perfect protection.”

The results are something that Mosher says all families should pay attention to.

“One thing that we always have in schools is books,” Mosher said. “Is it the best in the world? No. But once again, we’re talking about the worse case scenario.”

Mosher says if you decide to buy a ballistic shield, you need to make sure it has been tested by some government entity, law enforcement or the military.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, it is important for parents to keep in mind that on average, only 1 percent of all homicides of school-age children actually occur on school grounds. The chance of a child dying by murder at school is about one in 1.8 million.

And, when there has been a school shooting, more than half of children bringing a gun to school to cause harm, got the gun from home.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.



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