Back-to-school shopping: Notebooks, pencils and bullet-resistant backpacks?
Notebooks, pencils and bullet-resistant backpacks are all school supplies that may be in your shopping cart this year.
Right in time for the back-to-school season, several Tucson shoppers have seen bullet-resistant backpacks in local stores.
Yasir Sheikh, founder of Guard Dog Security, one of the companies behind the backpacks, introduced the idea in 2013 shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Ranging between $100 and $300 per pack, the backpacks are level IIIA, which means it will cover a bullet from a small weapon, such as a .9 mm pistol and .44 Magnum handgun, but not high-velocity firearms, according to Sheikh.
“We were getting a lot of requests for protection in public places against active shooters,” Sheikh said. “We thought of what might be the most practical solution to that problem, and we landed on a backpack.”
Unlike bullet-resistant vests, Sheikh says a backpack is easier to move around depending on where the threat is. You have the option to move the backpack in front of you, move it over your head or move it to cover your vital organs.
In terms of the look and feel, the backpacks don’t look drastically different than an ordinary backpack. They come in different colors and have several functions and features, like a built-in charging bank. “They also weigh around one more pound than a non-armored backpack,” Sheikh said.
Just like the backpacks seen in Tucson stores, people all over the country have seen them at their local store, leading to an increase in sales over the past few weeks, according to Sheikh.
Sheikh doesn’t attribute the spike in sales to a specific reason, but mentions the back-to-school season and the recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
“Shootings in this country don’t just happen in one single place,” Sheikh said. “There is no one place where people feel safer than others. It’s gotten to the point where people are looking for protection anywhere and anytime.”
Guard Dog Security has received overwhelmingly positive feedback, according to Sheikh. “People are happy that there is something out there that satisfies their concerns,” he said.
Sheikh also mentioned that Guard Dog Security has an anti-panel and anti-inserts stance, meaning they do not sell removable inserts and panels for their products.
“We don’t think that bulletproof protection should be removed, especially if you’re giving it to a kid that can easily take it out of their bag,” he said.
Office Depot and OfficeMax locations in Tucson were carrying the backpacks earlier this summer. Changes in stock may have made them more difficult to find; however, Sheik did not believe that stores would stop carrying them.
According to NBC News, 40% of adults that filled out a Morning Consult poll said they were “very concerned” about the potential for their children’s schools to have a shooting. Nearly half indicated that they would be willing to buy a bullet-resistant backpack.
Guard Dog Security doesn’t promote their backpacks to be the only solution to the overall issue.
“We are not here to say this is the end all be all solution,” Sheikh said. “But it is one of the elements of what needs to be done.”
As of Sept. 2, all bulletproof backpacks at Office Depot have been sent back to the factory due to a corporate decision.
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