JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As parents prepare their children for the start of the school year, safety is obviously a major concern.
And after the tragic events that unfolded during the spring in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 21 people at an elementary school, Byrna Technologies says it’s received many inquiries and orders for ballistic backpacks and insertable shields. Another company that’s making the backpacks is called A Safe Pack.
Joshua Schirard is a former Texas police officer who now trains law enforcement and private security while also representing Byrna.
“The Byrna Shield is a backpack-insertable body armor, so it’s super thin, very lightweight, weighs less than a pound for (one) particular configuration,” Schirard said.
The shield has a level IIIA ballistic rating, which means it can stop bullets from every handgun caliber up to a .44 magnum. Inside the shield are engineered flexible fibers that are layered on top of each other – similar to Kevlar.
“Is it horrible the fact that we have to offer this? Absolutely. But it’s a fact that we do,” Schirard said.
There is also a thicker shield that is rated to stop bullets fired from an AR-15 rifle. There are also backpacks that can transform into an actual ballistic vest.
“It provides you with both ballistic or bullet-resistant panels on both the front and the rear and can be deployed within a second with a single hand,” Schirard said.
News4JAX asked parents both in-person and online how they felt about the idea of sending their children to school with a bullet-stopping backpack.
“What does it say when we live in a time where parents have to consider sending their kids to school with a ballistic backpack? “I say it’s a sad time, but it’s necessary,” Corandrea Heart said.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea. But, it’s a scary idea,” Lamirah Johnson told us.
“I’m just going to home school. I don’t want to deal with any of it,” Deonna Borden said.
News4JAX viewer Laura writes: “No. Ridiculous that this is what the USA has come to. Can we perhaps have some proper gun control and mental health care instead of Kevlar for our kids?”
News4JAX viewer Chino writes: “It is not a bad idea seeing how things are going with school shootings. A lot of people will either be laughing or be angry but if your child gets saved by one of these then go for it.”
The backpacks and shields aren’t inexpensive. The shields can range from $140 to $180, and depending on the level of protection, the backpacks start off in the $300 range and go up to $900.