The sound of gunshots and their threat is making bulletproof backpacks and ballistic protection inserts increasingly more popular.
“Whether it be at a school, a live event, shopping mall or even a church, it’s becoming more and more frequent,” Birmingham, Ala. resident James Trotter said on Wednesday. “That’s not OK.”
After a discussion with his business partner in Toledo, who he declined to name, Mr. Trotter decided to address the need by making more affordable ballistic inserts and environmentally friendly through his Toledo-based company, PAKSHIELD. On Tuesday, he is launching a campaign for a ballistic insert of the same name on indiegogo.com to raise $250,000.
The company announced the product on March 7. It is running a prelaunch campaign through March 27 to raise money for the product in addition to the one being launched the day after.
The PAKSHIELD is a transferable, flexible, and light ballistic panel that can fit in virtually any backpack, or travel bag. The insert also meets industry standards, having the capability of stopping a variety of calibers, Mr. Trotter said.
The web-based business will be in Toledo at 405 Huron St, though where the product will be manufactured is still being decided. The business is registered in Montgomery, Ala.
Mr. Trotter said the price, around $70, is 30 percent lower than other bulletproof inserts on the market. The product is made from recyclable technical materials, though he wouldn’t specify the materials.
“I felt that it was our duty to figure out what we can do to help,” Mr. Trotter said. “We were like, “Ok, these active shooting situations are horrible things. How do we help provide some sense of security in a world that’s not safe?’”
Products such as these aren’t new, with several companies of the like over the last few years.
“It’s sad that it’s mainstream,” Steve Naremore, CEO of TuffyPacks, a ballistic shield company in Houston, said on Tuesday.
Mr. Naremore said he started TuffyPacks in 2008 after a conversation he had with his daughter, who’s a fourth-grade teacher in Texas.
She mentioned to him the rising rate of school shootings at the time, which is how he came up with the idea for his business, he said.
He said 95 percent of his customers are parents.
“I’ve had parents say things like, ‘Oh, I’m so glad you’re offering this. We need this,’” Mr. Naremore said.
Sales typically rise whenever there’s a mass shooting, he said.
“I can recall days when I’ve come into the office, and somebody stops me and says something like, ‘We’ve got 300 orders overnight from Ohio,’” Mr. Naremore said. “I go, ‘No kidding.’ I go to my computer and will look up something like, ‘School shooting in...Ohio’ and I go, ‘Oh, there it is.’”
Mr. Trotter compares the PAKSHIELD to a bike helmet or a seat belt, something that people hope they don’t have to use, but are glad is in place if the need arises.
Rev. Jack Sullivan Jr., director of the Ohio Council of Churches, said on Tuesday he feels children are now responsible for their own safety, which saddens him.
“This is a reality that is not necessary,” Reverend Sullivan said. “We are agents of extreme and privileged levels of power who need to use our power and authority in ways designed to protect our children from school shootings and to price their lives high on our list of priorities concerning our society.”
The PAKSHIELD website is pakshield.com.
First Published March 22, 2023, 3:50pm