Bulletproof is The New Black
Backpacks, cars, panties, and tank tops are all getting the “bulletproof” treatment.
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Miguel Caballero has shot over 230 people in almost thirty years.
He’s shot himself a couple of times too.
Instead of admonishing Caballero for being (quite literally) trigger happy, people are lining up to be shot by him, eager to prove the quality of his bullet-resistant couture.
It’s a risk they’ve all been willing to take.
Lucky for them, the fashionable t-shirts, jackets, and vests have all proven to be efficacious, successfully protecting its wearers against rounds fired out of assault rifles and handguns.
The Colombian designer, who founded the eponymous company in the height of street violence and instability in his home country, promises that his "personal ballistic protection solutions" will not only function as intended, but also look incredibly sleek, suave, and sexy on its wearer. All of Caballero's creations are recognized by the U.S. National Institute of Justice in the standardized rungs of IIA, II, IIIA, III, and IV protection levels. Without getting too technical: these jackets are not for the faint of heart. Military personnel, law enforcement, private security, businessmen, heads of state, and personalities, are Caballero's target audience (and, well, at times his target practice).
Even David Blaine, the quintessential contemporary illusionist, has gotten in on the fun (if you could call it that). And though Caballero started out in the war-torn, poverty-stricken, narco-inflicted Colombia of the 1990s, he's recently realized that there's another nearby country in the Western Hemisphere with a high demand for bulletproof fashion: The United States of America.
As of now, there have been eleven school shootings in 2018.
It's only January 26th.
The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit corporation committed to providing a public database for gun-related violence in the nation, puts the number of incidents at 3,680 thus far in 2018.
Injuries total 1,814. Deaths total 1,015.
Caballero isn't the only one tapping into this market, which is booming in the U.S. and abroad. Grandview Research, in a study, released two years ago, anticipates that the "global ballistic protective equipment market" will be worth $5,750,000,000 by 2025.
Unfortunately for us, Caballero's designs are not budget-friendly solutions to safety. At nearly $5,000 a pop for a jacket, it really beckons the question of the price tag you would put on your own life.
Caballero's bulletproof wear isn't designed for women or children, either.
A Wake Forest University sociology professor who is an expert in U.S. gun culture, David Yamane, spoke with Scott Burton of Body Armor News (how apt) in an interview last month about this preference for males when designing bulletproof clothes:
"Men have historically been society's protectors, in terms of the country as a whole, the community, and the family. This is why men are far more likely to end up in harm's way. Men are the more likely victims of assault and everyday violence. Men are more likely to be targeted and killed because they hold the primary positions of power in society, including political, economic, and cultural."
But, surely, we can't let the women and children lag behind? After all, though they may not "historically" be "society's protectors," they certainly have always been seen as society's most vulnerable.
The Daily Mail reported on January 8th that an Indian teenager, by the name of Seena Kumari, has developed a prototype rape-proof and bulletproof underwear that would go on the market for about 70 dollars a pair.
Florida Christian School, a K-12 nondenominational private school in Miami, offers parents the opportunity to buy "bulletproof panels" for backpacks on their school website. The panels are by Applied Fiber Concepts, founded by a Latino engineer, Alex F. Cejas. Another Florida-based company, Guard Dog Security, distributes "back to school" ballistic protection, including a bulletproof calendar.
As bleak as it sounds: if gun violence is the new normal, it only makes sense to adapt to the times, and the market is just following the trend.
But, it doesn't have to stay this way.
Watch this powerful TED Talk from Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, to inspire action and change for the better: