Photo by Jeff Prince.

Textbooks. Check. No. 2 pencils. Check. Notebook paper. Check. Level 3 body armor capable of stopping rifle rounds? Check-aroo!

When shoving little Janie or Timmy out the car door toward their school entrances this year, parents can rest easy knowing that Gladiator Solutions is making a new line of lightweight body armor designed for kids. There were 23 school shootings recorded in 2017. About 190 shootings have occurred at schools and universities since 2000, according to a Washington Post study. About 200 students have been killed, and another 200 have been hurt during that time.

The Janies and Timmies of the world have a better chance of being shot than becoming valedictorian.


Matt Materazo, CEO of the San Francisco-based Gladiator Solutions, is the father of two school-age children. He said his kids asked him why nobody was making body armor for school kids. So he did, using the same materials favored by first responders and military personnel on a product called Pak Protect.

“Parents are being sold a false sense of security,” Materazo said in an email. “Because with all of the ‘bulletproof’ products to hit the market, no company is providing Level 3 or Level 3a armor for kids. Pak Protect created a new design of armor that inserts into a kid’s backpack –– any backpack. By holding the pack in front of you, covering your head and torso, or by running away with your head down, a child now has the ability to escape and survive a horrific incident.”

A bad day at school used to mean getting a D in algebra, not catching a bullet in the back while running from a psycho. It seems ass-backward for companies to develop too-little-too-late solutions for problems that should have been handled already by politicians. But our forefathers must have wanted school kids to wear body armor and carry AR-15s and other assault weapons, or else the old dudes wouldn’t have written the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to preserve “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”