Guard Dog Security, a company that sells home and self-defense products, isn’t usually featured in Back to School sales. They sell tasers, brass knuckles, mace, and extendable batons. And now, in a depressing sign of the times, they’re selling children’s backpacks.
Designed in simple styles and bright colors, the backpacks are reinforced with layers of Kevlar and sold as “bullet-resistant.” Guard Dog started making them after the shooting in Sandy Hook, but this summer is the first time they’ve been available in general retail.
“That’s very interesting that you can just go into a store now and buy, it’s not like a special order or anything,” said Amber Williams when interviewed on the street by First Coast News. Williams, who has three school age children, found the backpacks on the shelves of an Office Max store where she lives in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville had a mass shooting at a video game event last year, where 11 people were injured and three killed. She is considering buying one for her middle-school-aged daughter.
“We are prepared for back to school season,” said Yasir Serich, founder and president of Guard Dog Security. “We are prepared for anything that might entail a spike in sale for the line of bulletproof backpacks.”
As passive as bullet-resistant backpacks are, parents are still divided as to whether or not they belong in schools. Opponents think they should be banned, saying they’d be more likely to protect a potential shooter than his victims. Proponents think that Guard Dog’s $120 price tag is preying on parents’s valid fears.
While school shootings are not actually on the rise, increased media attention and the increasing severity of other mass shootings make it understandable that parents are struggling to feel that their children are safe at school. In the 2018-19 school year, 36 firearm incidents were reported in schools from elementary through university in the U.S., with five of those qualifying as multiple victim school shootings.