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An inside look at bullet proof backpacks

While some view it as a necessity, other parents may find the idea of bullet proof backpacks a bit disturbing. (ABC 7 Amarillo - Lia Kamana)

With the first day of school just around the corner, student safety has been a major talking point. Especially with the string of school shootings last school year.

One option parents are turning to, to provide an extra layer of safety for their children are bullet proof backpacks.

While some view it as a necessity, other parents may find the idea of bullet proof backpacks a bit disturbing.

"I saw something about them on Facebook the other day and it kind of caught my interest because I didn't know they existed prior to then," said Mary Schneider, an Amarillo resident and mother of three. "It's kind of frightening that we have come to a place where we need bullet proof backpacks."

Samantha Biggers, a writer for Backdoor Survival, did some in depth research on the topic following the Parkland shooting. And she shared some of her findings with us.

"They do some good, but the protection is limited," said Biggers.

ABC 7 News also decided to try a couple out for ourselves with the help of the Potter County Sheriff's Office.

First up, the bullet proof insert by Bullet Safe.

"We shot this backpack here with this ballistic panel inside of it. We shot it with the 147 grain 9mm hollow point rounds and we also shot it with 115 grain full metal jacket ammunition. We shot it a total of 12 times," said Sergeant Harry Smith. "We also shot 40 caliber hollow point and one round of 45 caliber hollow point and none of the rounds penetrated through the material. The only round that penetrated through the material and the backpack was the 223 round which went all the way through all three pieces."

We also shot a Guard Dog bullet proof backpack with the same rounds and again, the only round that went all the way through was the AR-15 round.

"Based on the shooting of these panels as requested, they pretty much held up as expected," said Smith.

"There's different levels of armor available and most of what is being marketed to people for their kids, won't stop the types of rifles used in the school shootings," said Biggers.

There are six different levels for body armor and bullet proof panels. All ranging in coverage, price and weight. The ones we tested were level III-A.

"The ones that would do the most good and would stop an AK-47 or AR-15, they weigh 8 to 10-pounds a piece, and that's quite a bit for a smaller child to carry," said Biggers.

Although majority of the bullets didn't go through the panels, there was deformation from the impacts. And the impact from a bullet can cause harm as well.

"My recommendation, if you get one for your kid, you should probably teach them and it might be kind of scary, but they need to learn that they need to get behind the pack but they need to get behind other things too," said Biggers. "If they can't handle the 8 to 10-pound weight, get the standard III-A and get behind something else. It's about all you can do."

If you are interested in buying a bullet proof backpack or insert, we encourage you to do your own research and figure out which one is best for your child.

"I think just because of things that have happened around the United States people might be nervous. I feel fairly secure in Amarillo, but I'm sure a lot of other people felt secure about the school their kids were going to," said Schneider. "So I hope it doesn't come to the point where I feel they would need to have bullet proof backpacks, but if the need arises I could definitely see why we would do it."

If you have more questions regarding bullet proof backpacks and inserts, Samantha Biggers can be reached at samantha@backdoorsurvival.com.


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