George Tunis is a CEO of Hardwire LLC, a successful American manufacturing company that makes high-tech protection for America's military. Tunis likes to say that his company is "a bunch of engineers who invent things... the passion of our company is inventing life-saving things."
In December, George and his young son were watching the horrific details of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders on television and when he saw the fear in his son's eyes, his engineering brain kicked in. He said to his son, "We can fix this. We have to do something."
Less than a month later, Tunis and his company unveiled a product that he hopes will never have to be used -- bulletproof dry erase boards and clipboards for teachers.
These very lightweight, bulletproof whiteboards can be used by teachers and students as protection from a shooter.
The boards work just like the typical erasable whiteboards found in schools and offices around the world, except they're bulletproof (even at close range), easily removed from walls and light enough to be carried as a shield against bullets. The Maryland-based defense contractor has only recently started selling these boards to schools. Based on the initial reaction, demand will likely be very strong.
Tunis said that clipboard and the riot shields also used by police departments, were part of Hardwire's diversification program. But they also provided some of the inspiration for the dry erase boards the company's now offering to schools.
According to Tunis, last summer he decided to make a small, bulletproof board that would slide into his son's backpack..."just in case." Little did he know that this idea would soon be something parents all across the country would be looking to add to the backpacks of their children.
The bulletproof whiteboards for teachers come in two different sizes, 18in x 20in and a smaller clipboard sized model that is 12 inches by 8 1/2 inches. They are about five times more expensive than standard dry erase boards, but they do have a definite advantage -- they can stop multiple bullets fired at close range.
The company's video demonstrates:
Hardwire's CEO wants these boards to be seen as teaching tools that can also empower educators. Their appearance is non-threatening and therefore, not a distraction. However, should a situation arise, the dry erase boards are instantly available as shields against virtually every firearm a bad guy could bring into a school. The company outfitted a local school in Maryland with 90 of the bulletproof boards.
"Imagine 90 teachers walking with a wall of bulletproof boards," Tunis said. "If you're a bad guy, your plan just got changed."
Watch him explain more about how the product came about, below:
- 18 inches x 20 inches in size.
- Blends well with classroom – no psychological impact on students.
- Perfect for highly interactive teaching.
- Easy-to-hold handles for portability.
- Weighs less than four pounds.
- Covers the head and torso.
- Provides protection to National Institute of Justice standards.
- Absorbs multiple clips of ammunition without ricochet or injury.
Tunis is hoping that other companies will follow its example and step up to donate these boards to schools. They have started a program that will encourage companies to "adopt" schools and outfit them with the bulletproof whiteboards.