CLEVELAND - Sales of bulletproof panels for backpacks have more than doubled in the past year, according to the local company that manufactures the product.
"The response has just been fantastic," said Rob Slattery, sales manager for Impact Armor Technologies located on Cleveland's east side.
The panels are custom built and designed by Impact Armor Technologies to fit into the back laptop pocket sleeve of a backpack. They're made of multiple layers of woven Kevlar and are meant to withstand bullets from a .44-caliber magnum, the most powerful handgun.
"We're of the thought that we hope you never need our product, but it's nice that it's there," Slattery said.
Depending on size, the panels cost about $95. They weigh less than two pounds.
"I think it's overkill," said Girish Kurtkoti, a Cleveland resident who has a 6-year-old son.
Kurtkoti said he would never buy a bulletproof panel for his son's backpack, but other parents had a different opinion.
"It's good they did think of something like this," said Naomi Franklin, a mother of a 6-year-old son. "It's great."
"I'd be all for whatever makes our kids safer," said David Neal, an Akron father of two children.
In addition to backpack panels, the company also makes bulletproof door and wall panels as well as bulletproof clipboards. The clipboards cost about $150..
Slattery admits that he'd love to be put out of business by a technology that would protect all children from gunfire, but he knows that today's reality is much different.
"You have to make yourself a harder target," he said. "These threats aren't going to go away."
Some parents not only worried about kids' perception of carrying a fortified backpack. They were also concerned about the amount of protection it could provide.
"I wouldn't be sure it would keep them safe if something tragic happened," Neal said.
"If you're in a classroom, hold it (the backpack) up in front of you," Slattery said. "If you're running down the hallway away from the threat, fleeing the danger, obviously you're going to throw it on your back and protect the trunk of your back."
Other parents said the focus shouldn't be on bulletproofing school products, but rather it should be about helping others.
"I'm going to do everything I can to make my community better so that my child doesn't need to go to school with a bulletproof backpack," Kurtkoti said.
For more information on Impact Armor Technologies products, visit their website at www.impactarmortech.com.