GAINESVILLE, Fla. - In the wake of mass shootings in Orlando, Dallas and Baton Rouge, one University of Florida student has invented a ballistic shield to help save lives and make a difference.
Andrew Bloomfield, who is an engineering student, created the "Minuteman," which is a shield designed to protect people from AR-15s and possibly other rifle style weapons.
The invention is still in the prototype stage and Bloomfield will be conducting a round of tests with different types of weapons and bullets to see how much the shield protect against.
He said he's torn between being proud of his invention and being disgusted that something like it is needed to protect people in active shooter situations.
"It's important because these kinds of things are happening far too often. You have situations where people are in these kinds of scenarios and they can do absolutely nothing to protect themselves," Bloomfield said.
His idea to create a ballistic shield that can protect against certain rifle rounds came shortly after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
"It's meant to be a portable, concealable shield for a situation of aggression. You can pull it out. It's something you can keep on you or put in a strategic place to be used in a scenario like this," Bloomfield said.
But what if it were to get into the hands of a shooter? Bloomfield said it does not protect against armored piercing rounds, which are commonly used by police departments and SWAT teams.
"In some terrible scenario, where a shooter was able to coerce someone into protecting them, it's not completely undefeatable. It's just meant to stop the most common types of threats," Bloomfield said.
Bloomfield said he's not only confident the shield will save lives, but could also act as a deterrent to make shooters think twice about pulling out a gun.
"There's the old argument, you never have a shooting in a gun store, right? Because no one is going in, shooting people with a bunch of guns. People target these places because they know they're going to kill a lot of people without any resistance," Bloomfield said.
He's still working on getting money to produce the shields on a mass scale, as well as continuing the testing phase. Bloomfield said a cheap model could cost about $200 and go up from there, but he's trying to come up with an affordable and light weight option.
Anyone interested in helping Bloomfield raise money for more research and supplies can donate to his work on GoFundMe.
To learn more, visit the Minuteman Systems YouTube page.
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