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Body armor isn’t just for police officers or public figures anymore. In the wake of a deadly school shooting in Connecticut, a Colombian businessman has announced a line of bulletproof T-shirts, vests, and backpack-jacket hybrids geared towards the U.S. market. Although Miguel Caballero says the idea of marketing to children never crossed his mind in the two decades he’s been in business, he received so many inquiries since the Dec. 14 massacre that the demand became impossible to ignore. “We would answer that we do not make clothes for kids. But the emails kept coming,” Caballero told AFP.
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For the past 22 years, Caballero’s factory in Bogota has specialized in outfitting politicians, security forces, and other people in high-risk situations. But although his own country is in the grips of its own internal conflict, Caballero’s offerings have been strictly adults only. That changed after a lone gunman killed 20 young children and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month.
The bulletproof gear is meant for emergencies, to be handed out by teachers at their discretion.
In under a week, Caballero’s team was subjecting prototype designs to ballistic tests. Shortly after, the factory primed itself for its first lot of 1,800 bulletproof garments, ones capable of withstanding rounds from a machine gun. But how do you explain to a child that going to school is so dangerous that bullet-deflecting gear is warranted? Cabellero explains that the clothing isn’t for everyday use. Rather, they’re meant for emergencies, to be handed out by teachers at their discretion.
Tailored for children aged 8 to 16, the new line is expected to cost between $200 to $400, depending on the item and its size. Caballero told the Telegraph that he’s received orders from a U.S. distributor, although he declined to name it for security reasons.