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Some turn to bullet-resistant blankets after U.S. school shootings

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma company that sells a blanket to protect children from gunfire has seen its business grow after a spate of U.S. school shootings has left parents and educators on edge.

ProTecht of Oklahoma originally developed its "Body Guard" blanket product to keep children safe from high-speed debris flying through the air from the tornadoes that frequently hit the state, but many parents see it as armor against bullets, the company said on Thursday.

"The government is not going to do anything in law about guns, and there is nothing else out there to protect the children," said Stan Schone, who helped develop the blanket.

The 5/16th-inch (7.9 millimeter) pad is made from bullet-resistant materials that can be folded and strapped on the back and then unfurled to hide under in emergency situations. The blankets sell for about $1,000.

The company declined to provide sales figures.

Co-developer Steve Walker, an Oklahoma podiatrist, came up with the idea of a protective blanket after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in late 2012 and a tornado a few months later that killed 24 people in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, including seven children at school.

Since Sandy Hook, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the school in Connecticut, scores of school shootings have occurred in the United States. The most recent was in Oregon this week when a teenage gunman shot a student to death and then killed himself.

In ProTecht's home state of Oklahoma, most schools are interested in the product for tornado protection, but orders were also coming from Canada, France, Germany, South Korea and other countries.

"I’m glad we can make a difference in helping keep kids safe, but it’s a sad thing that we need a product like this," Schone said.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Richard Chang)

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