As the school year starts up again, it’s no surprise that safety is on many parents’ minds. On this week’s “TechKnow,” contributor and former CIA operations officer Lindsay Moran explores companies that are developing bulletproof products designed to keep kids safe from school shootings.
“The National Report Card on Protecting Children During a Disaster recently issued a statement saying that in 28 states, public schools have failed to meet the minimum government standards for protecting children in the event of a disaster,” says Moran. “I kind of approached this story from two very disparate vantage points. One, being a former CIA officer who thinks any layer of added security is good, and then one as a mom, in ‘Do I really want to give my kids the idea that this kind of technology is going to keep them safe?’”
Moran checked out some of this technology at Hardwire LLC, an armor company in Pocomoke City, Md., that manufactures bulletproof school accessories.
“This factory was built right in the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts,” Hardwire Chairman & CEO George C. Tunis III tells Moran. “So it started really as a vehicle armoring company, we moved into body armor, and then after Sandy Hook, we really took that same technology and applied it to school armor.”
Hardwire produces bulletproof backpack inserts, whiteboards and adhesive doors for classrooms made of dyneema, a strong synthetic fiber that is also used to make skis and snowboards.
“The key is time, temperature, and pressure,” Tunis explains. “We found that with increasing pressure, ballistic properties went up. So the harder we could squeeze it, at the right temperature, the more the ballistic resistance went up, so the lighter the shield could be.”
Tunis explains that each Hardwire product has about 40 layers of compressed dyneema, giving them the bullet-stopping power of steel while weighing significantly less.
Still skeptical, Moran took some of Hardwire’s products to a local shooting range with Col. Doug Dods of Maryland’s Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
Moran and Dods first tested a 9mm Glock and .357 Magnum against one of the Hardwire backpack inserts. Some of Dods’ shots were deflected through the bottom of the backpack, but none were able to penetrate Hardwire’s shield insert.
“The way it’s designed, it actually absorbs the energy and collapses around it, which is perfect for a ballistics panel,” Dod explains. “If you’re holding it, your hand’s going to sting, but I’d rather that than a hole in my chest.”