with every mass shooting in the united states comes renewed fear of another.
it's a fear particularly potent among parents of young children and especially now, days away from the start of the school year. it's not unwarranted --cnnexamined 10 years of shootings on k-12 campuses and found two sobering truths: school shootings are increasing, and no type of community is spared.
instead of letting their children choose a plastic backpack covered in hello kitty or spider-man, some parents are purchasing bags that double as shields in case kids get caught in gunfire.
companies like guard dog security, bullet blocker and tuffypacks designed bulletproof backpacks to quell those concerns.
the retailers said backpack sales spike during the back-to-school season, and all three said they saw a significant uptick in the aftermath of mass shootings.
joe curran founded bullet blocker 12 years ago after a shooting at virginia tech killed 33 people.to protect his two school-aged children, the former sheriff's deputy inserted body armor into their backpacks, he said. classmates' parents asked for inserts for their children's bags, and it grew into a business.
the company's website calls the bulletproof backpack a "consumer favorite." prices range from $160 to $490. most are jansport or high sierra backpacks retrofitted with ballistic panels sewn into the back. the smallest offering, the "junior pack," is suggested for preschoolers.
sales have increased 200% since the mass shootings last weekend, curran said.
yasir sheikh, president of guard dog security, said the company launched a line of bulletproof backpacks in 2013. the bags retail for between $119.99 and $299.99.
raquel k.w. donahue decided to purchase a bulletproof insert for her 6-year-old son before he starts first grade. she opted for the insert instead of the pricier backpack because he'll outgrow a bag quickly, and the insert was marketed to last 20 years, she said.
donahue is a reference and instruction librarian at prairie view a&m university in texas. about an hour and a half away is santa fe, texas, where 10 people were killed at a high school in may 2018; 10 hours away is el paso, where a gunman killed 22 people at a wal-mart on saturday.
"there is the morbidity factor," steve naremore, ceo of tuffypacks, acknowledged of the product's purpose.
"when i was in school, there was no such thing as active shooter drills," he said. "but times have changed."
donahue's son brought it up first. he came home from an active shooter drill in kindergarten and shared what he'd learned to do if a "bad guy comes to hurt him," she said.
"he's worried about things i never dreamed of," she said. "it makes me sad -- and angry."
she's had active shooter trainings at work, too. after a 2014 shooting in a library at florida state university in tallahassee -- the same town where a gunman would kill two women in a yoga studio four years later -- donahue and her fellow librarians have planned what they'd do in case of an attack.
"it's sort of incredible how this is impacting both my personal and professional life."