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March 15, 2018

Micah Smith

How can students survive a school shooting? It’s a scary question parents, teachers and lawmakers are asking across the country.

From arming teachers, to giving students bulletproof backpacks, groups on both sides of the aisle are discussing different tools that can potentially keep kids safe.

Backpacks are not the only bulletproof items that are being marketed towards students. Many of these items are bought, sold and manufactured in the Charlotte area.

“The last few weeks have been pretty busy. Ever since the shooting down in Florida,” Jeff Simmons, who sells bulletproof items on his website, said. 

Right now, a bulletproof desk calendar is a top seller, Simmons says. 

"It's a desk calendar, the same that everybody has except it has a bulletproof panel on the bottom," said Simmons.

The lightweight panel is the basis for a variety of ballistic armor and Premier Body Armor in Kings Mountain makes a lot of them.

"Our largest customer is a civilian market. Started with police officers off duty, putting these backpack panels in their backpacks then they started buying them for their children and one thing has led to another," Frank Stewart, who is the president of Premier Body Armor, said. 

Stewart said they can customize their panels for different items but every one has the same key feature. "Their designed to stop your most common handguns," said Stewart.

Keith Davis, who is a firearms instructor for the Kings Mountain Police Department, put that to the test. 

But how effective is ballistic armor to keep students safe during an active shooter situation?

“With police and ballistic material they're coming in all types of configurations. You’re finding them in backpacks, you’re finding them in notebooks, you’re finding them in a variety of different items that are common to school,” Security expert Karl de la Guerra said.

"Make sure that it’s something that your child is going to use," the security expert said. "Make sure that it’s something that they're going to carry, you don't want to give them idea that this is going to scare them or it’s something to make them scared. Just integrate it in as if it’s a regular tool or regular item that they would carry with them to school."

De la Guerra said parents should also know that technology is not perfect. “There’s no such thing as being bulletproof. It’s ballistic armor that’s rated to stop certain types of projectiles."

Stewart said Premier is in the process of developing more school related products.

De la Guerra said keep in mind, the lightweight panels are not meant to stop assault rifles.

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