BRIDGETON, MO – Students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida arrived for the new school year Wednesday (Aug. 15) sparking widespread discussion, once again, about campus safety. Some families are taking matters into their own hands by equipping children with personal shields.
There are a variety of armored backpacks and backpack shields available on the market that students can use in the event of an active shooter. People can buy them on Amazon or websites for Office Depot and Home Depot and have the product shipped to a local store.
Matt Materazo, Founder, and CEO of Gladiator Solutions designed a removable shield that may be inserted into most backpacks.
“It was really difficult for me, in spite of what I do for a living, the idea of putting protection in my kids’ backpacks and sending them off to school," he said. "Emotionally, for me, it was a challenge.”
According to Materazo, Gladiator Solutions provides life-saving protection to law enforcement, fire departments, and the military. The father of two said after the shooting in Parkland, he put a law enforcement plate into his teenagers’ backpacks and soon after their friends wanted one too.
These discussions led him to design the PakProtect, a ballistic protective plate that can fit into most backpacks or travel bags. The plate is 11 by 14 inches, a quarter inch thick, and 18.5 ounces. Materazo says it absorbs the impact of a round.
“It takes the kinetic energy, and it evenly disperses it across the plate.”
The average cost of armored backpacks or backpack shield ranges from about $100-200. The PakProtect is $129.95 and comes with a ten-year warranty. A portion of every sale is given to the COR Foundation, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization developing more compassionate student leaders and preventing violence in schools and colleges by translating scientific research into school-based youth interventions.
Students must be carrying these products for them to have the opportunity to be effective.
Fox 2 spoke with several area school districts about the products. At this point, there are no policies that would prevent students from carrying either an armored bag or bag shield to school, but several districts do ask students to keep book bags in lockers throughout the day.