ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In the wake of multiple school shootings nationwide,  parents are turning to bullet-resistant backpacks to protect their kids. Sales have nearly tripled since recent tragedies. But do they work? 

Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway wanted to know, so he invited NewsChannel 9 to the range as they put the backpack to the test. 

The Sheriff purchased a backpack online, for just under $200. It is made by body armor manufacturer Bullet Blocker. The manufacturer says it will stand up to a handgun attack.

“This is an item a child can obviously wear in school or while in school. We want to see whether this personal protection device is worthy of something parents want to consider,” Conway said.

So Sheriff Conway assembled his top shooting instructors at the firearms range where they train to put the backpack to the test.

The backpack was strapped on a mannequin. Armed with a 45 caliber handgun, the instructor aims, and fires. 

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Conway said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect but it certainly appears the rounds did not go through the panel.”

There were no puncture wounds. The backpack stopped the 45 caliber handgun bullets that were fired from 10 yards away.

The backpack’s manufacturer does not claim to hold up to rifle power. But because it’s been the kind of weapon so often seen in recent mass shootings, the Sheriff decided to test that too using a high-velocity rifle that is carried in Sheriff’s patrol cars. 

The results? A fail. The piercing ammunition passed right through the bookbag. But again, they are not advertised to stop gunfire from high-velocity rifles.

“It’s a sad commentary that we have to offer these for our kids today, but if parents choose to have this kind of safety for their child, it is available and it does offer some protection,” Conway said.

A closer look at the built-in panels, they are made of a Kevlar fabric that successfully stopped the handgun bullets. It is a layer of protection, but parents need to understand their limitations. The backpacks are far from foolproof.

Take a look at the backpack, post test. The bullet holes are from the rifle, and you can see how the bullets just cut right through. 

Parents also need to keep school policy in mind, before buying something like this. Some schools require backpacks to be in lockers, or hung on a hook in the hallway, so children may not have backpacks with them when they need them.

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For more local news, follow Christie Casciano on Twitter @CCascianoNC9