Bulletproof backpack inserts claim to offer better protection, but do they work?

MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. — Bulletproof backpack inserts claim to offer an extra level of protection for your children as threat of school shootings continues to be unpredictable in the U.S. But do they work?

“I don’t know why anyone would want to teach right now,” said Ruth Maxwell, a retired Union County teacher.

Maxwell said she can’t imagine how parents must feel about their children’s safety while in class.

Guns have been found in several local schools across the Carolinas. In South Carolina, those include Rock Hill High School, Dutchman Creek Middle School and South Point High School.

Last school year, in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 31 guns were found on campuses.

Retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Detective Lee Ratliff said calls to police for potential guns in schools are increasing.

“We get the call quite often,” Ratliff said. “It’s become more frequent and more recently than we have seen in the past.”

So, some parents looking at bulletproof backpack panels for their children’s protection.

The manufacturer BulletSafe claims its panels can slip into any book bag, which makes it bulletproof against handgun rounds of up to a .44 Magnum. Anthony Trivette, lead gun instructor at Shooter’s Express, helped Channel 9 anchor Damany Lewis test out the bulletproof panels. They used one panel in an empty backpack carrying no school supplies.

A 9 mm round did not penetrate the BulletSafe panel.

“It worked 100%,” Trivette said.

The next round tested was a .45 caliber.

“As you can see, we have an entry point into the panel, but as you can see, we have no penetration in the back,” Trivette said. “So this panel has operated at 100%.”

BulletSafe doesn’t advertise that the panel could stop a round from an AR-15, so Trivette and Lewis put two panels in a backpack to see if they would stop a round. The two panels did not stop the round; the AR-15 round went through both panels.

The backpack was then filled with notepads and paper to see if that would make a difference. This time, the books inside stopped the round.

“It traveled through an angle, went through all the folders,” Trivette said. “It penetrated the first panel but it did not penetrate the second panel.”

Trivette said he was surprised that books slowed the projectile.

Deja Thompson, a mother of a 4-year-old child, said she may look into buying a backpack.

“I definitely would consider that,” she said. “Putting it in my daughter’s bookbag for safety.”

The bulletproof panels we tested can be purchased for $100.

Channel 9 reached out to the makers of the BulletSafe backpack panels, asking them if they are working to create single panels that would stop an AR-15 pistol or rifle. So far, we have not heard back.

(WATCH BELOW: After fatal shooting, Charlotte city councilman proposes bulletproof glass for bus drivers)

Damany Lewis

Damany Lewis, wsoctv.com

Damany Lewis is an anchor and reporter for Channel 9.