Bulletproof Backpacks for Kids: Cautious Protection or Feeding Anxiety?

Miguel Caballero: 'I Am Not The Aggressor'

Caballero is so convinced his product works, he has a longstanding, if not bizarre tradition at the factory for new employees: Fire bullets at them while they wear his products.

Today, his 260 employees are hard at work making bulletproof gear for the American Red Cross, the Paraguayan police and, now, American children -- the company's newest clients.

Caballero said the idea came to him on the fateful day three months ago when 20 first graders were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Within days of the shooting, Caballero said he started receiving requests from anxious American parents.

"All the emails from parents say, 'I am afraid to send my child to the school,'" he said.

He bristled at the suggestion that he is exploiting parents' fear.

"I am in the business of personal defense," Caballero said. "I am not the aggressor. I am not the attack people. I only want to supply any solution in the United States."

But gun control advocates say that is ridiculous and companies like Caballero's are taking advantage of parents' panic over their children's safety to turn a profit.

Everitt said companies like Caballero's are part of the problem, not the solution.

"They have a profit motive," he said. "They're businessmen. The goal of a businessman is not to enact laws to ensure public safety."

Everitt, who is also a parent, was skeptical of how effective the backpack would be.

"Are they going to be wearing a bulletproof helmet, as well? Are they going to be covered from head to toe?" he asked. "If a guy walks in there and unloads more than 150 rounds in less than five minutes, how many kids are going to saved by bulletproof clothing in that instance?"

Caballero insisted his products speak for themselves. To demonstrate, he fired eight shots from a 9mm handgun straight into one of his backpacks.

"So, you can see, no penetration," he said.

Caballero would not reveal the secrets of the backpack's technology, but he said the key is a special gel that absorbs the impact of the bullet and disperses the energy.

The National Institute of Justice, the American government agency that certifies bulletproof clothing, said Caballero's material passed bulletproof testing. His first shipment of 150 units was on its way to the U.S. just last month. Last week, the line officially launched here.

But Everitt said these products show we are losing sight of the real issue of gun control in America, and any parents considering putting their kids in body armor to go to school should ask themselves if they want their children to live in a country full of fear of being attacked.

"Does that sound like a vision of America, or does that sound like a third world country?" Everitt said. "This is insane."

But for Boykin, that threat already exists and he wants to take action against it. The early reviews from Jaliyah on her new bulletproof backpack were mixed.

"It's tight, it's heavy and slow," she said, but she noted that she liked "the hearts, stars and fairies" that adorned it.

Now that Jalyiah can potentially protect herself with the backpack, her father said they might start going to the movies again.

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