Louisiana close to lifting ban on bulletproof backpacks in schools

Law that bans body armor would be amended

By AJ WILLINGHAM, CNN
Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images via CNN

The Louisiana Senate has approved a provision that would allow students to carry bulletproof backpacks on school grounds.

(CNN) - The Louisiana Senate has approved a provision that would allow students to carry bulletproof backpacks on school grounds.

The provision is not actually a new law, but rather an amendment to an existing one that prohibited the use or possession of body armor in school zones and firearm-free zones.

Senate Bill 178 makes an exception for "a student wearing, carrying or possession a backpack on school property or a school bus that has bullet-resistant metal or other material intended to provide protection from weapons or bodily injury."

The legislation was sponsored by Mike Walsworth, a Republican state senator from West Monroe. "If it saves one child, that's all I would care about," Walsworth told the Times-Picayune. "I'm hoping that this backpack never has to be used."

CNN has reached out to Walsworth for comment.

Prompted by Parkland

Walsworth also said the proposal was in direct response to the Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February.

Since the shooting, legislators have discussed a spectrum of solutions for school violence. Some have proposed change through gun control legislation, and others have suggested dealing with more immediate provisions, like arming school staff, amping up school security, and providing children with tools like the bulletproof backpacks in question.

When students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school returned to school after the shooting, they did so with increased security and clear backpacks in tow.

Cost is a concern

One of the concerns opponents of the Louisiana provision have is the price of such a tool. Bulletproof backpacks and ballistic panels can cost more than $200, making them an unrealistic option for many families.

Earlier this month, a Louisiana House committee voted down a bill that would allow teachers and school administrators to be armed on school grounds.

Senate Bill 178 will now move to the House for approval.

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