Covered in princesses – and bulletproof: Ballistic gear for civilians, and students

“Here’s our demographic: parents with kids,” said Steve Naremore, founder of TuffyPacks, a Houston-based company that sells bulletproof backpack inserts. “It’s a real morbid niche.”

And a growing one: Sales have increased every year since 2016.

This is America in 2019, where mass shootings have become so commonplace that consumers are buying bulletproof backpacks, clipboards, even three-ring binder inserts, that they hope will protect them from gunfire. Retailers across the country say they have seen growing demand for bullet-resistant products for children – as well as for doctors, teachers, flight attendants and taxi drivers – giving rise to an industry of ballistic goods for everyday Americans, though there is little evidence the products are actually effective.

For the first time, Office Max and Office Depot have included bulletproof backpacks among their back-to-school offerings, while online retailers are marketing bulletproof whiteboards, chair cushions and kids’ puffer vests that tap into a growing sense of fear and helplessness.

“So many of the things we’re investing in today, whether it’s smart-home technology or protective backpacks, are about safety and security,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for the market research firm NPD Group. “Every time we have one of

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