APRIL 2007: A gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech.
APRIL 2007: A gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. Alan Kim

School offers bulletproof panels for student backpacks

A PRIVATE school in the US is offering bulletproof panels for its students' backpacks.

Florida Christian School in Miami lists a $A156 ($US120) "ballistic panel” for sale on its website, under items such as red t-shirts and winter gear.

The panels, according to dean of students and head of school security George Gulla, offer "another level of protection” to students "in the event of an active shooter”.

They are slim, binder-sized pieces of armour that weigh about 450g.

"The teachers are trained to instruct the students to use their backpacks as a shield to protect themselves," Mr Gulla told CNN.

Mr Gulla declined to comment when reached by The Independent.

According to the Miami Herald, the panels are built to withstand bullets such as a .44 Magnum and a .357 SIG - but not those from rifles.

The panels are manufactured by Applied Fiber Concepts, a body armour company owned by Florida Christian parent Alex Cejas.

Mr Cejas has been putting the panels into the backpacks of his children, ages 11 and 13, since they started school.

When Mr Gulla started running active shooter drills with students, Mr Cejas took note.

He reached out about setting up a custom order for other parents.

Mr Gulla told the Miami Herald the reaction from parents has been largely positive.

He started working at Florida Christian in 2012, shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Twenty children and six adults were killed in the shooting, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire on the Newtown, Connecticut school.

More than 200 school shootings have occurred in the US since then, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In October of 2015, for example, 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer killed nine people and injured seven others at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

In 2013, John Zawahri shot and killed four people at Santa Monica College, before killing himself.

- Emily Shugerman, The Independent