CHICAGO (NewsNation) — The solution to America’s epidemic of mass shootings — at least those that take place in classrooms — may be as simple as a pod. Or so it would appear, given the uptick in orders for school shelter pods.
Designed to protect kids against deadly tornadoes, the two primary manufacturers, Shelter-in-Place and National Safety Shelters, also tout their ability to stand up to automatic weapons, including AR-15s.
“We are seeing an uptick in the interest of our shelters, especially since the beginning of the 2021 school year,” Dennis Corrado, president of National Safety Shelters, told “NewsNation Prime” on Wednesday. “We’ve been getting more inquiries.”
Arkansas’ Quitman school district was one of the first in the country to install the units in 2018. Dennis Trexler, Quitman’s school superintendent, tells NewsNation its dual purpose was a big selling point.
“They’re rated for an EF5 tornado, and they’re also made with ballistic steel that the U.S. Army uses on the armored vehicles,” he said.
The cost, however, can range upwards to $1 million for 53 classrooms.
“I think it’s sad it’s come to this but I’m very grateful our school was able to provide those,” one Quitman school parent said.
The pods newfound popularity hasn’t come without criticism, however. A freelance writer ignited a firestorm online after revealing PR email about the shelters:
“Just got a PR email asking me to write about these new classroom safety pods. I hate everybody,” it read.
The tweet drew outraged responses, mostly over the need for this solution, instead of banning assault weapons. And as it turns out, the president of National Safety Shelters agrees, admitting on NewsNation that he would rather not be selling the safety pods.
“The first order of business is keep guns out of schools. If that can’t be done, and we know that it’s not going to be done 100%, then something has to be done to protect the kids,” Carrado said. “We’re passionate about saving the lives of children. That’s why we do this,” he continued.
National Safety Shelters says the company has also been in talks with managers of office buildings and government agencies, among other places where people might feel concerned about their safety.
As for tornadoes, NewsNation reached out to the National Wind Institute to ask just how reliable these pods are against storms and debris.
We were told yes, if they were tested and certified — which they are — and then properly anchored when they were installed, they should hold up to that kind of storm.