I-TEAM: Make your child bulletproof

St. Johns County mom makes it her business to keep kids safe

By Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor, Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

ST. JOHNS, Fla. - The February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was the last straw for a St. Johns County couple on a mission to keep their young children safe. 

"As we continued to watch all of these shootings in the schools, my husband and I said what can we do?" Carrie Gaines told the I-TEAM.

She is a former Department of Defense contractor, and her husband is a military veteran. Together, they searched for solutions, using what they learned from their experience in protecting the country.

"We said, 'What if we gave our kids some sort of body armor that they could use at school?' And so we came up with body armor inserts they can be put in their backpack," Gaines explained.

The parents teamed up with the manufacturer Vism by NcSTAR to create inserts that are placed inside backpacks to act as a shield against bullets. Ranging in price from $85 to $280, they sell three different levels of protection in different sizes under the name "A Safe Pack."

Gaines said in the event of an active shooter, children would put on their backpacks, tuck in their arms, legs and head just like a turtle, and then stay put until they're told they are safe. 

I-TEAM puts 'A Safe Pack' through gunfire tests

As we mentioned, "A Safe Pack" comes in three different levels of protection: Bronze, Silver and Gold. They are made of a plastic-type fabric that is layered and woven together, which means they are safe going through a metal detector.

With the help of Bruce Bichler, who is a licensed gun owner and father, the I-TEAM tested the highest and lowest levels of protection the maker offers.

Bronze-level insert tested

Bichler fired a 45-caliber handgun with the bronze-level insert as his target. It had no problem stopping any of the bullets.

WATCH: Handgun test

"There is no bullet pass-through whatsoever, because the bullets are still inside the plate," Bichler said looking at the one-pound shield after firing his handgun.

Gold-level insert tested

For high-powered rifles, the makers recommend the highest-level insert, which weighs about four pounds. To see how the $280 armor insert would hold up, Bichler fired a bolt-action hunting rifle.

In our test, the armor stopped the bullets from going through.

File photo

WATCH: Bolt-action rifle test

"Entrance there, zero exit," he said.

Using the same insert, we then wanted to test the AR-15 -- the controversial rife that has been used in many school shootings.

"The bullet entered low. It did not come out. Never did I think that a 1-inch thick piece of Kevlar would stop that bullet at that range," Bichler said looking at the $280 armor insert after firing the AR-15. "It proved me wrong. I thought the plate stood up much better than I anticipated."

WATCH: AR-15 test

There are other products on the market similar to "A Safe Pack," but Carrie Gaines and her husband trust this one.

"You have no idea how many people have said to me, 'I can't believe that you're sending your children to school in body armor.' And I say, 'I feel like I have no other choice. Until the schools change, the laws change, something else changes, I feel as though there's nothing else I can do for my children,'" said Gaines.

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