In the wake of the Florida high school shooting that left 17 dead, a manufacturer of bulletproof backpacks and other bullet resistant products says orders are through the roof. TMZ reports:

A company called Bullet Blocker sells the fortified knapsacks for anywhere between $200 and $500. We're told the company sold 500 of the bags Thursday, a 30% spike in regular sales since the shooting. 

The company's owner, Joe Curran, tells us the majority of the backpacks sold this week are headed to Florida. 

A quick review of the website shows a variety of products, including a pink, child-sized backpack on sale for $199, that weighs two pounds with a Kevlar panel in place.

The company says it's "[t]ested to the NIJ IIIA standards stopping a 357 Magnum, 44 Magnum, 9mm, .45 caliber hollow point ammunition and more."

Other, adult-sized backpacks sell for as much as $500.

Bulletproof (or perhaps more accurately, bullet-resistant) technology has been around for more than a century, but it gained widespread use by law enforcement in the mid-1980s.

Sales to civilians began in countries that were experiencing civil strife and unrest, such as Colombia in the early 1990s. Sales in the U.S. have expanded in recent years, especially (and unfortunately) as we've had so many more mass shootings of innocent people. 

Anybody who spent time in Afghanistan or Iraq since 2001 certainly knows what it feels like to wear. I'd hate to try to function in daily civilian life wearing something like I had in Iraq, due to its weight and bulk, although these products are a lot lighter and more flexible.

I'd also be wary of a false sense of security; bulletproof products that could stop a 9-millimeter pistol might be worthless against an AR-15 like the one the murderer at the Florida high school had. 

The National Institute for Justice maintains ratings for bullet-resistant products. And of course, bulletproof backpacks and clothing don't necessarily shield your entire body.

Besides the backpacks, you can buy bulletproof clothing and even designer bags, like a 5-pound bulletproof 2-piece men's suit for $1,200, or a "portable lightweight seat cushion" for $189, that is designed for "classroom/vehicle event protection."

(The image on the Bullet Blocker website shows a woman holding it in front of her face, as if defending against an assailant.)

Big question: Are bulletproof backpacks, vests, and other bullet resistant equipment legal?

For the most part, it appears that the answer is "yes," with some conditions. The biggest restriction is a federal law that stops convicted felons from possessing body armor. 

Before actually buying something like this, you should get your own local legal advice. Ask a lawyer, or at the very least, call up your local police department and put the question to them.

But, a 2016 news article says that even most states with very strict gun control allow civilians to purchase and use body armor. Connecticut has the strictest laws, requiring any purchase of body armor to be handled in a face-to-face transaction.

What do you think: Are bulletproof protections sensible protection in the modern age, or a sign of the dystopian times? Let us know in the comments.

Published on: Feb 16, 2018
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