As If Textbooks Weren't Expensive Enough: Now Someone Wants To Make Them Bulletproof

from the say-what? dept

School shootings certainly get an awful lot of attention — for very good reasons. However, for all the talk of school shootings they’re pretty rare events. Still, that hasn’t stopped a widespread discussion on ways to help prevent them and increase the safety of schoolchildren. Some of those discussions are quite worthwhile, but some of the ideas seem a bit far out there. The Raw Feed points us to one such idea: make textbooks bulletproof (literally). Then, when some outcast student starts shooting up the place, the kids can just duck behind their biology textbook and feel safe. We’re not exactly clear on how they’re supposed to protect their whole body using this method, but the guy behind the plan (who’s also a candidate for state school superintendent in Oklahoma) insists it would save lives. Of course, he also admits he’s not sure how much it would actually cost to coat textbooks in kevlar or come up with some other means of bulletproofing them — and we suspect that at almost any price, that money could be better spent on other programs that have a far higher likelihood of helping to keep kids safe.

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Comments on “As If Textbooks Weren't Expensive Enough: Now Someone Wants To Make Them Bulletproof”

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pinakidion says:

Key sentence

the guy behind the plan (who’s also a candidate for state school superintendent in Oklahoma)

Only a longshot candidate for super could come up with an idea like this.

It’s not that a book could be coated in kevlar, it’s the force of the bullet that’s a problem. The first one would be blocked, but it would also knock the student some distance (not to mention the book).

Old Fuzz says:

Re: Key sentence

It’s not that a book could be coated in kevlar, it’s the force of the bullet that’s a problem. The first one would be blocked, but it would also knock the student some distance (not to mention the book)

Sorry, you are incorrect here. The kinetic energy from a 180 to 200 grain bullet is insufficient to knock someone back…that is Hollywood. The energy transfer from a bullet hitting a hand held book would be like holding a block of wood for a martial artist while they kick it in half.

My concern with this ballastic book solution is that it would give kids a sense of protection that is not there in reality. They need to address the problem and screen people coming into the school better than they do.

As a retired police officer, I can tell you from experience that proactive enforcement and protection is light years ahead of even the best reactive solutions and scenarios.

pinakidion says:

Re: Re: Key sentence

I guess it is Hollywood. The blowblack from larger handguns to pretty fierce, but I guess that is to the shooter, not the target. I didn’t do the math before posting or even a google search, I think I just assumed the kientic energy was high enough.

But I do agree with your point, it is a false sense of security at best.

What kinds of proactive solutions have you seen that work best? I’ve always wondered about the metal detectors and how effective they really are.

Avatar28 says:

not much need

Most textbooks are, IIRC, pretty thick anyways. Assuming that you could get the book between the gun and your body, it would likely already prove somewhat bullet resistant for at least a lower caliber bullet. Probably wouldn’t stop a .45 or anything but smaller handguns, yeah. At the least it would significantly slow it and minimize injuries.

Anonymous Coward says:

“how about, equip all teachers with a stunner, and campus security with transquilizer to put down the insurgents?”
Unfortunately that won’t work either. My old highschool’s security officer(actual city police officer) was fired for using a taser on a student. He had completely legitimate resons for doing so, but nevertheless he was fired. Why let the man carry one if he has no authority to use it?

BallisticJoe says:


It comes down to having metal detectors and an active security squad for each school. As is, it doesn’t take an extremely thick book to slow a bullet to the point where one could easily survive. Seems pretty pointless to make the books bulletproof. Besides, what if the students doing the shooting took their books with them as well? Well hell, then they have a shield from the police!

Overall it sounds like a pretty poor idea by another self-absorbed politician that just wants to say something to feel good about.

There’s too many conventional ways to stop this gun problem already. I’d suggest the first to be a TRUE Zero Tolerance rule on bullying, then we can talk about less effective and less conventional ways if that doesn’t drastically reduce shootings…

dorpus says:

In perspective

It’s a common tactic for losing candidates to use sensationalist rhetoric. I remember in Maryland, some candidate for congress talked about how our schools are “war zones” and that we need machine guns, but nobody took her seriously.

The truth is that many places in Oklahoma don’t even have a custom of locking doors. If your neighbor needs something, he might come into your house while you’re away and borrow a tool. (Which is followed up by gifts of big bake pans full of food.) Some of the “rednecks” have engineering degrees from colleges, but choose to live the redneck life rather than work some shitty job in a faraway city.

Brad says:

Ballistic Joe...

Joe: Hah, you got beaten up in school.

How do you have a “TRUE Zero Tolerance” on bullying? What constitutes bullying? Shoving? Teasing? Ignoring? Excluding? Name-calling? Rejecting? If there’s “zero” tolerance…

Should the hot girls get expelled for not wanting to go out with the obese, sweaty kid? What about the hot girls???

Bullying is a lot like porn: Most whiney pricks claim they’ll “Know it when they see it” but none have a good deffinition. Kinda like you, balltastic joe.

Dosquatch says:

Re: Re:

If you really want to save kids lives, then take a lession from the UK. Get Rid of the Guns.

And suffer the same increase in muggings, assault, and battery.

Or, we can look to Canada where gun ownership is pretty similar to the states – but without anywhere near the violent crime rate – and try to figure out the difference. Or, we could look to Switzerland where everybody is required to own a gun and be certified in the use of a fully automatic weapon (or something along those lines), again with nothing close to the crime rate.

I’m not saying that increased gun ownership creates a more peaceful society. I’m not saying that banning guns creates a more violent society. I’m saying that for the most part, guns are not the problem. A gun is a tool, and as with any other tool, it can be used for either good or bad at the whim of the user.

The problem is not guns, video games, music, tag, dodgeball, or riding a bicycle without a helmet. The solution to school violence is not banning guns. It is not bulletproof textbooks. it is not more metal detectors, or political stump-speeches, or tazer-weilding cops in the schools.

The solution is to figure out why people turn to violence more often here than other places.

Lucas (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I would suggest that before making references to Canada’s pacifist nature, please remember that gun violence happens in Canada as well. As a resident of Toronto, I can tell you that on average, several people are shot in this city alone every weekend.

Canada just has a much smaller population than the United States: just because things happen on a smaller scale here does not mean they don’t happen at all.

Dosquatch says:

Re: Re: Re: Violent Canadians

would suggest that before making references to Canada’s pacifist nature, please remember that gun violence happens in Canada as well

I was not implying that Canada is totally free of violence and shootings, and I certainly didn’t say that. What I said was “nowhere near”, which is true. The per-capita murder rate in the US (#24 worldwide) is nearly three-fold that of Canada (#44 worldwide). (and 4.6 times that of Switzerland, #56)

Dosquatch says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Violent Canadians

The per-capita murder rate in the US (#24 worldwide)

… is about .043 per 1000, which means 1 whole person per 23,300 people is murdered in the US each year, or about 12,900 (mind you, only about 8300 of those are murders with firearms, meaning 4600 people are murdered in some other creative fashion) dead bodies out of 300,000,000. That’s total – the total yearly body count in schools can be measured in the tens. Realistically, school is already one of the safest places you can be, bulletproof texts or no (just to bring this back to point).

So, for those of you keeping score at home, the important thing to note here is that (like so many other issues) the actual severity of the problem being discussed has been blown all out or proportion in the name of sensationalism.

Anybody want a used soapbox?

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

“If you really want to save kids lives, then take a lession from the UK. Get Rid of the Guns.”

…and the knives, and rocks and baseball bats and trigonometry compasses and scissors…squirt guns with rat poison/DMSO..flare guns, matches/pencils/magazines, screwdrivers, nails

and TURNIPS… this is the funniest and yet saddest because 10 or so years ago someone in the UK was killed when someone driving threw a 5 lb turnip at a guy and it killed him.

So no, guns are not the problem, I use guns all the time and have yet to kill or injure a single person as is the case with a majority of gun owners.

To quote Archie Bunker from “All in the Family”

Gloria: Do you know how many people die every year from guns?

Archie: Would it make you feel any better if they were pushed out of windows?

Anger is the problem, not the tool used.

Mindless Puppetz says:


I think we’ve gotten a bit off-track from the subject at hand. *and btw, i do believe the “hot” girls should take a “obese, sweaty kid”, you’d be surprised at what good companions the not so good looking people can be.*

No matter what we attempt to do to prevent school shootings/bullying/etc, there will always be someone who bypasses those precautions, just like may other things *ie: DRM protection / server security (compromised daily) / etc…*

The only way we could prevent school shootings is if each student was home schooled seperately from every other student. But it wont stop bullying…

Awesome Mr Ethan says:


We’d have to also put large target symbols on the textbooks, and keep up the current trend of cutting school funding.
Eventually they’ll just get so stupid that they’ll be compelled to shoot at the target and not understand why it’s not working.

Everybody laughed at me when I started wearing Kevlar underwear but they’ll see… oh, they’ll see alright. I’ve got my priorities in order.

nunya_bidness says:

Root Cause

I am no expert, but I think the schools, as well as society, needs to do some serious soul searching. We need to try and figure out why these things happen in the first place. Kids that do evil things must be a result of some sort of programming, and it needs to stop. The media should also stop blowing it out of proportion and instead, inform people of ways to help put an end to such tragedy’s, but I doubt that will ever happen. When I was in school the thought of a student going on a shooting spree never entered my mind, but the neighbor girl did come over occasionally to borrow my tool. 😉

Orion says:

Re: Root Cause

I totally agree that we need to do some serious soul searching to find the problem.
I really think that the problem is that we’re teaching our kids that there is no such thing as wrong.
Everyone is right, everyone’s opinion is valid, your not supposed to put down other peoples ideas.
If little billy believes that it’s ok to blow the other kids away then he’s entitled to that opinion.
What we need to do is teach the kids at an early age that there is a right, and there is a wrong.
Putting the ten commandments back in school would be a good start for this. Forget the religious part of it, these are just really good rules for life. (Don’t kill, Dont steal, Dont sleep with you neighbors wife, etc.)
If we taught kids that it is just plain wrong to do these things when they are young, then there would be less murders, less corporate crime, and less devorce in this country.

Bob says:

Re: Root Cause

These things happen because parents expect the school to be raising their children for them. Visit a PTA meeting recently? Most teachers are surprised the parents show up, much less take a sincere interest in their child’s development. This feeling is so rampant it’s little wonder that when Johnny takes a gun to school mom and dad can’t figure out how he would do such a thing. And why didn’t the school do more to stop this?

You want to keep your kids safe? Have a zero-tolerance policy on lousy parenting.

Steve says:

I think ballistic Joe was bullied when he was a kid Hence the zero Tolerance rule… I’m sorry, me messing with a kid (male) that wore a black trench coat to school with black fingernail polish, vampire teeth, white makeup to look like the undead etc…. deserves to get teased and bullied, I mean, what the hell is wrong with you, yeah OK LIBERALS it’s good to be different we know no need to remind us… but not a freak… Don’t make even the administration shake their head when you walk by… Even teachers messed with him… I mean you do it for attention, now you got it buddy. How do you like it?

Anonymous Cow Herd says:

Hollywood VS Reality

pinakidion: “The first one would be blocked, but it would also knock the student some distance…”

Newton and ballistic realities would disagree. Unlike the movies, in the real world people do not get blown back when shot, especially with handgun rounds. Think about it, if someone shot a round powerful enough to knock the targeted person back, it would also knock the shooter back upon firing. It would be like the scene in MIB when Wil Smith fires the Cricket.

Avatar28: “…it would likely already prove somewhat bullet resistant for at least a lower caliber bullet. Probably wouldn’t stop a .45 or anything but smaller handguns, yeah”

Only partly true. Yes, a thick text book would stop many typical defensive calibers, INCLUDING the .45 ACP you and many people think is some magical Hammer of Thor.

The 45ACP is a slow moving (typically subsonic) fat round. It’s great for causing a big hole (crush cavity) and has decent stopping power against unarmored flesh.

When it comes to defeating armor, it is a very poor performer due to the aforementioned characteristics. There are in fact plenty of documented police shootings where the criminal was shot in the head with a 45ACP round and the bullet bounced/deflected off the skull.

Don’t be a chairborne commando; bigger bullet diameter does not always = more power.

ehrichweiss says:

why violence..

“The solution is to figure out why people turn to violence more often here than other places.”

I believe I know why, at least for schools: the kids, especially the “different” ones that “Steve” has issues about(scared by Dracula as a child I’m guessing…grow up Stevie), see a totalitarian society building around them that is offering them fewer and fewer choices and even fewer ways of expressing themselves, and when compounded with bullying, etc. some are going to look at the attitudes portrayed in our movies/TV(not blaming them but they do factor in) and think that if it’s hopeless they might as well get revenge before they cash in or that if they’re caught that someone will FINALLY listen to their side of the story(and boy do we listen then, huh).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: why violence..

Ok, by saying what I was saying, I was specifically talking about the trench coat mafia boys, the ones that have a problem with society as it was yesterday, as it is today and how it will be to morrow. I seem to remember it being those types that shot up Columbine… No???? Actually, the count was my Favorite Sesame Street Character. It’s just the way those kids present themselves that I had a problem with. Might I add that this was also about 8 years ago that I was talking about. I was just using him as an example. Why don’t you see the averige kid, dressed normaly go postal in schools?

Suprised again. says:

you can't see the trees for the forrest.

Look smaller, its not the big picture that needs attention, its the individual kids. Extreme violence in schools will continue to occur until parents take a larger roll in their children’s lives. Find out whats going on with your kids, GET INVOLVED and do it at an early age so they grow up trusting you. Similar to Switzerland, we should have manditory certifications, but in parenting. Most people would not take a free course to save their own lives, but if you couple it with a huge hit to the wallet…. If they are not certified, double or triple their taxes. The solution will take about 15 to 20 years to complete, but that generation will have far far less violence (and possibly drugs and teen pregnancy) in the schools. Seriously guys, proper parenting goes a very long way. The way I see it, you had the kid, now be responsible and raise them right. You really owe it to them. (And yes, I had a child, I had just turned 21, I followed this principle, and read tons of books on helping her become well balanced and behaved. I have never had to yell at her or spank her. Now she is 10, and she is light years ahead of all the other kids. The only reason we keep her in school is so she can socialize.)

Root Cause says:

You are missing

The root cause is Greed.
Eh? you ask…
Greed can be manifest in many ways, but some of them are….
Hording Money….
Hording Power….
Hording Influence…
Who frustrates us? The jocks, chearleaders, rich, politicians… The IN crowd, that won’t let others join…
Greed is human nature, only those that suffered it, survived bad winters.
Want to fix society? Control your own and teach your children to control their Greed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is this a joke?
The problem with America is that everyone is afraid. The teachers are afraid of the students, the students are afraid of getting killed, the killers are afraid of being rejected by society and living dead end lives, the parents are afraid of their children and anything else the media tells them to be afraid of, the media is afraid that no one will watch their programs and they won’t make enough money (what is “enough”?) with their ad-revenue so they keep throwing shocking & horrible stories up there to keep everyone afraid.

Fearful consumers keep consuming. America’s economy runs on fear.

That’s why a STUPID idea like making text books bullet-proof actually has a chance to make it. That’s why people think about it seriously. It seems like the proverbial “snowball in hell” is getting colder instead of melting.

We as a society need to focus on fixing the problem from the beginning –not just patching up the results of our mistakes. We need to raise our children better NOT because we’re afraid that they might go postal and shoot up a school one day, but because we want them to live better lives.

Haven’t we seen enough stupid people with bad ideas in powerful positions? Get this moron out of the running for superintendent!

Evil_Bastard says:

Violence in the UK has risen at a higher rate post gun ban, stabbings, beating etc, and illegal guns. Laws against gun ownershio do not stop criminals, yet every politician seems to go for them. Why? – because it’s and easy answer and makes idiots feel better. Instead, lets go after real criminals, find the kids heading down the unibomber trail, look for ILLEGAL weapons and make the tough choices we need to make less innocent people die.

Anonymous Coward says:

first, physics.

momentium and energy
momentum is equal to m*v (mass x velocity) and that must be equal, i.e. a 200 grain bullet moving at 1200 fps (feet per second) has a certain momentium, and by law, momentum is conserved. so when that bullet hits a person of say 60 lbs (depending on school age) the new velocity must be equal to (mv/(m+M)) where m,v is mass/velocity of bullet, and M is weight of child) since m

Lord Sparhawk says:

Simpler Solution

In this era, we the people cannot take responsibility for our own actions. If we did, then most of the problems would fade away. I personally believe that if we took a more “Roddenberryian” approach, that is to say “The Non-interference” policy, it would trickle from the greater national issues (we are teaching our children that if we don’t like something, we just go enforce our values on another, and if they die, oh well, they deserved it.), down to the individual level. It is safe to say, in my opinion, that if we all actually practiced the golden rule on a regular basis, it would become an engrained response, and most of our problems would slowly, if not completely, fade away.

To summarize: Treat others the way you wish to be treated, Don’t enforce your value system upon another, don’t interfere with another (person or country, or peoples) value system. And most importantly, take responsibility for your actions.

Tyson says:

Completely off subject, but I couldnt help myself

A child can now claim “math saved my life…. literally….. my math book was bullet proof and stopped a bullet at our weekly school shooting…”

LOL was a crazy idea…and to think… this guy wants to be superintendent.. I would love to have this guy making decisions about the school that my kid attends.

CollateralDamage (user link) says:

Bullet proof paranoia

The book covers would fit nicely with the newly released bullet-proof backpack and school uniforms that come with GPS devices built in.

For a wonderful satire on this whole thing direct your browser to BulletProofBaby.Net.

They’ve really got the goods.

Richard Adams says:

What do you suggest

It’s very easy to shut down some one elses ideas, but at least he has one. I don’t belive a person should critizies an idea with out comeing up with a better one. I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, if the person has a better way of doing something. You say use the money for other programs. I say what programs do you recomend what is your idea that is better than mine.

Eddy.S says:


Well after reading all the comments i couldn’t stop laffing but then again it had to stop and remember how it was going to school in the city(yes the inner city to be exact the Bronx during the early 90’s) and man some of the people that went to the school during those times wish they had everything bulletproof or stab proof. Going to a public school where you didn’t felt safe really mess up with your mind I’m glad I graduated and don’t have to deal with that issue anymore but feel sorry for the next gen thats coming up in that same enviroment. so keep school gun and drug free so that the next generation has a chance

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