MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – The tragedy at Sandy Hook has prompted an overwhelming demand for bulletproof backpacks. It is protection that Action News 5 Investigators have been tracking for years.
Do they really work?
Tragedy at Sandy Hook – students and teachers killed in a Connecticut elementary school shooting; students running to escape gunmen at Columbine in 199; the massacre at Virginia Tech: horrifying instances that gave two fathers from Massachusetts the idea to start a company called Bulletblockers.
One of their hottest items: bulletproof backpacks.
The backpack maker claims it can actually stop bullets if your student is ever under fire.
Andy Gerrish is a parent to a high schooler and two college students.
"It's always in the back of your mind. You want your kids to be safe," he said.
If his children are ever under fire, he's not sure if a bullet blocking backpack is the answer.
"You're carrying a backpack at school, if something pops up like a Columbine thing, I think a backpack full of books is enough to stop or deflect a bullet," Gerrish said.
We headed to the shooting range to test Andy's theory.
Will Abbot, a certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor helped us test the pack.
"Looks normal. Let's see how it stops bullets," he said.
Our first shot was from a 44 caliber revolver. The largest type of bullet the manufacturer claims the bag can stop.
"We had some blunt trauma," Abbot said.
Abbot says the blunt trauma ripped the target's shirt, could have shattered a rib and caused massive bruising. But as for stopping the round?
"No penetration," he said.
So during this test, the bulletproof backpack worked. But can you get the same results from a much cheaper ordinary backpack with nearly five inches of books and school supplies inside?
"Pretty much destroyed, and did nothing to stop the bullet except maybe slow it down a little," Abbott said.
Abbot says that's enough proof the backpack's worth the investment.
"Because if you're going to carry a book bag anyhow, why not carry one that stops bullets in addition to just carrying books?" he said.
While our instructor's convinced, students are far from sold on the idea.
We caught up with grad students Erika Pond and Katelyn Galloway walking in front of the college of nursing, the same area that was a crime scene seven years ago.
"I think I've got just as much chance getting hit by a car when I ride home on my bike today, you know chance things happen," Pond said.
As tragic as the nursing shootings were, they say they don't fear chance events and just don't see the need to invest in a bulletproof backpack.
"I just think these things are rare and they're rare for a reason because most of the time you're pretty safe," said Galloway.
Bulletproof backpacks typically retail from one hundred-fifty to three hundred dollars