The latest accessory for heading back to school has more to do with survival than grades.
An Israeli company that developed a bulletproof backpack is seeing sales soar as American schools open for the new school year.
“In two months we have sold hundreds and are gearing up to increase production rates to 500 units per month,” said Masada Armour chief executive Snir Koren, according to Yahoo News.
Koren said the American market was the impetus for the product.
“We designed a bulletproof backpack at the request of our distributors in the United States after the huge trauma caused by the February shooting in Florida,” Snir Koren, CEO of Masada Armor, told AFP on Thursday, according to the Times of Israel.
Seventeen people were killed on Feb. 14 in a shooting at a Parkland, Florida, school.
Protection is not cheap.
The standard model backpack, weighing about six pounds, protects students against 9mm rounds. It sells for $500.
The company also makes an 11-pound version to protect against rounds from an AR-15 or an M-16. That one sells for more than $700.
Masada Armour is developing models for younger students as well.
“We are developing a lighter model for their type of morphology,” said Snir.
Not everyone is sold on the idea.
“We don’t believe in sending teachers to schools with guns and I don’t believe in sending students to school with armor,” said Stamford, Connecticut school board chair David Mannis, according to the Stamford Advocate.
Parent Shira Tarantino called bulletproof backpacks a “Band-Aid.”
“If parents want to buy their kids those items, that’s their prerogative,” said Tarantino, project director for the Stamford Pediatric Gun Safety Project. “I don’t think it changes the safety any way in the schools.”
Joe Curran feels differently. His Massachusetts-based company, Bullet Blocker, sells protective backpacks.
“We see an uptick in sales anytime there’s violence worldwide, and not just gun violence — any violence,” Curran said. “With Parkland and Newtown, we saw a very large upswing. We’ve consistently had growth over the years and we always get a growth at back-to-school, but this year is larger than the past.”
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