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Sales of bulletproof backpacks for children soar

11:09 AM, Dec 20, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Another sign of the times -- the latest protection for children: bulletproof backpacks.

The bulletproof backpacks for schoolchildren are able to stop pistol rounds, not rifle rounds.

No one's claiming that they're the perfect defense for kids.

But since Friday parents have been buying all they can find, on-line, for around $200 to $300 dollars each.

"It's designed to stop anything up to a .357 Magnum," said Richard Brand in Salt Lake City, Utah, who spoke with 11Alive's Jon Shirek in Atlanta Wednesday via Skype.

Brand's company, Amendment II, makes lightweight body armor for police and the military.

And earlier this year, at the request of parents, he said, the company also started making bulletproof backpacks for schoolchildren, made to the same rigorous standards as the adult body armor is.

"It's qualified and it's officially approved for police officer and military use. Most of your standard handguns is what this will be able to stop, the most common threats out there."

Brand said he regrets to have to say that since Friday, on-line sales of the bulletproof backpacks for children have exploded, twenty and thirty times normal. He regrets it, he said, because the company never expected the sudden interest and is scrambling to set up some sort of non-profit to distribute the children's backpacks.

"We don't want to make a profit on this, we just want to protect people."

Another maker of police body armor pointed out that a stack of books inside a regular backpack can also stop a bullet.

Still, what a skill for a child to be asked to learn:

"So get behind it, crouch behind it, cover as much body as you can, and keep it between you and the threat," Brand said, as he held one of his products up to his chest.

During the Cold War of the 1950s and '60s, school children were taught how to protect themselves, in case of nuclear attack and the atomic bombs that they were told could explode at any moment.

"You have to know what happens when an atomic bomb explodes," said the narrator in an old instructional film shown in classrooms to countless students during those years, showing children diving to the floor and ground at the sudden flash of The Bomb. "First, you duck and then you cover. And very tightly you cover the back of your neck and your face...."

Now, the lesson for many schoolchildren is -- shield yourself with your bulletproof backpack. 

____________________

Richard Brand, Amendment II, Salt Lake City, Utah:

Amendment II is a ballistic, body-armor company. We've developed an incredible technology, over the last couple of years, and we actually have ground-breaking military protection. And right now, our material is so light and so flexible that we've claimed we can put it into anything. Armoring cars, armoring houses, armoring boats, armoring planes....

And [months ago] when parents saw this product, they asked us if we could put it into a backpack to help protect their children. Of course we were willing to do that, there's nothing more valuable than our children.

[The company makes the bulletproof backpacks, and also bulletproof inserts that can fit into regular backpacks]

This [insert] right here weighs less than a pound, and it's extremely flexible, it weighs about three-quarters of a pound, and it can be easily inserted into a backpack. And so now you've got complete ballistic protection that is easily removed and put in, so parents can put this into any backpack at any time.

What we actually use is "RynoHide," that's our technology that we've developed.

[It's sewn into the backpacks]

This is a brand new technology. We have just passed the National Institute of Justice testing. And what that means is, is that it's shot over 400 times. At velocities much higher than the standard handgun. And NIJ does a rigorous test, proving our product's ability to stop bullets and to keep from penetrations at normal ballistic speeds.

It's qualified and it's officially approved for police officer and military use.

It's designed to stop anything up to a .357 Magnum. That would be bullets up to 1400 feet per second, and slower.... Most of your handguns is what this will be able to stop. With more material, we can stop greater threats.

We hope it goes unnoticed [and unobtrusive when worn], but we want [children] to be aware that their backpack is a tool for protection if they get into a bad situation.

Run away, get away, do not use this for protection, get away from the threat. If you find yourself trapped, or in a situation where you cannot get away, then do your best.... Bring it to your front as a shield for your vitals. So get behind it, crouch behind it, cover as much body as you can, and keep it between you and the threat.

Our sales [of the backpacks] are far beyond anything we had ever honestly hoped they would be. We're used to selling [body armor] to military and law enforcement [not to parents wanting backpacks]. We never expected this to explode. Our sales have become beyond the demand right now. Up more than 20, 30 times the [normal] interest in these products, this is not what we want. We're in the business to save lives. We will do everything we can to get our armor into as many hands to protect people.  But at this point, with these backpack inserts and backpacks, we're trying to get them into the hands of the people.  We don't want this to be at the expense of the parents.  We want to find other networks, other [non-profit] ways to get this product out, we don't want to make a profit on this, we just want to protect people. 

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