Parents snap up armoured backpacks for children

After the Connecticut school massacre, Ken Larson and his wife bought their son an armoured backpack — even though he’s one.

"My son’s life is invaluable," said Mr Larson, 41, of Salt Lake City. "If I can get him a backpack for $200 [€150] that makes him safer, I don’t even have to think about that."

Across the US, gun enthusiasts are stockpiling semi-automatic rifles in anticipation of tighter gun control measures.

A spike in gun sales is common after a shooting, but the latest rampage has generated record sales in some states, particularly of assault weapons similar to the AR-15 rifle gunman Adam Lanza used last Friday to kill 26 people at the school, including 20 children under 10.

Colorado set a single-day record for gun background check requests the day after the shootings, while Nevada saw more checks in the two days that followed than any other weekend this year. Records were also set in Tennessee, California, and Virginia.

Some gun shop owners stopped selling what was left of their assault weapons, anticipating only more interest and value after President Barack Obama instructed his administration to create concrete proposals to reduce gun violence.

Robert Akers, a South Dakota gun seller who specialises in military-style weapons, said there had been a rush of customers, and that he was no longer actively selling the guns.

"The price is only going to go up higher," he said.

There was also an increase in sales for armoured backpacks designed to shield children caught in shootings.

The armour inserts fit into the back panel of a child’s backpack. It is designed to stop bullets from handguns, not assault weapons. Still, the manufacturers and some parents say they could be useful as shields.

However, psychiatrists said armoured backpacks were not a healthy response, and would increase children’s fear and suspicion of their peers.