SAN ANTONIO – A chair manufacturer out of Bryan-College Station is now marketing a bulletproof chair to schools and offices.
Kristen Benavides, a sales manager for Neutral Posture, says the idea for the Guardian Chair had been on the drawing board for some time but the company fast-tracked it in time for the new school year.
She's a former teacher and a mother of young children.
"Everybody has that fear that something's going to happen in your child's school," Benavides says. She says after the Newtown school shooting, the company wanted to do something to help protect kids in classrooms. "
They typically tend to go to the path of least resistance," Benavides says about mass shooters.
If the Guardian Chair looks like an ordinary computer chair, that's by design, so not to tip off someone walking the halls of a school.
"This outer covering is actually a removable bulletproof vest," Benavides says.
She says if districts don't want to arm teachers, the chair is something simple that can still save lives in an active shooter is on campus.
"There are two things I can do," Benavides says while sitting in the chair for a demonstration.
"I can duck behind the chair as a shield, and you actually have a double layer of bulletproof Kevlar there."
Or you can throw the chair cover over your body, Velcro the straps and wear it as a bulletproof vest.
"If you think about the first line of defense – the person at the security desk," Benavides says.
It's not cheap, though: the list price on the website is nearly $1,900. And right now, the vest only fits one type of chair. But as schools strike a balance between being prepared and living in a bubble, Benavides says the chair might be a good option.
"If we can't have every door badged, if we can't have bulletproof glass in the front office, then maybe we can have something inconspicuous like this," she says.
Benavides hopes her kids never have to use the bulletproof vest but says the protection is there if they need it. She says while school security is top of mind, the Guardian Chair could be used inside a lot of public places like banks, city council meetings or human resource departments.
The bulletproof chair is one of many products companies are making to improve school safety, including bulletproof white boards and bulletproof backpacks.