By Adam Welsch
Ninety-eight years ago today, former President Teddy Roosevelt was shot in front of the Hotel Gilpatrick in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was in the midst of a third-party campaign for his third term in the White House when a would-be assassin and saloonkeeper, John Schrank, shot him at close range. Fortunately, the .38 caliber bullet lodged in Mr. Roosevelt’s chest muscle and didn’t reach his heart, slowed down by his steel eyeglass case and a folded copy of his 50-page speech that were resting in his jacket. Amazingly, the Rough Rider went ahead and delivered his speech at the Milwaukee Auditorium before going to the hospital. He began by telling the crowd, “Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
A couple of years ago, German police officials announced that they’d be outfitting their female line officers in bulletproof bras. The announcement got a lot of press, but the statement contained a bit of a misnomer. The bras weren’t actually resistant to penetration by bullets. And they weren’t made of materials like Kevlar®. Instead, they were made of traditional intimates materials, like cotton, polyester, and lots of padding. However, unlike conventional bras, they lacked any metal or pieces of plastic. This was their important characteristic, but actually made the bras “bullet-accommodating,” rather than bulletproof. When a female police officer wears a true bulletproof vest, injuries can be caused when the force of a bullet’s impact compresses the vest and her bra against her skin. These “softer” bras thus prevented secondary injury, but didn’t stop bullets in their tracks. Conventional bulletproof vests still had to be worn to accomplish that feat. Nevertheless, when news of the German police bras spread across the media, British female officers were quick to request them as well.
It’s indeed ironic that in order for the German police bras to be considered “bulletproof,” all metal had to be removed from them. After all, it was the metal found in an underwire bra that did, in fact, prevent injury, and perhaps save the life, of one woman unlucky enough to have been the target of a shooting. Back in April of 2009, a 57-year-old Detroit woman, who witnessed burglars breaking into her neighbor’s house, was shot through her window, but avoided serious injury, when the bullet deflected off of her bra’s underwire.
Another case involving a de facto bulletproof bra surfaced just a week before that Detroit incident. In this one, however, the facts resembled those of the attempted Roosevelt assassination. Fifty-eight-year-old Ivonete Pereira of Salvador, Brazil was riding on a bus when she was shot in the chest by robbers. Fortunately, knowing that buses in her area were often targeted by attackers, Sra. Pereira had hidden a large roll of Brazilian currency inside her bra cup. The roll of money absorbed much of the bullet’s impact, and she survived the attack.
Unfortunately, true bulletproof, undergarment protection for women doesn’t seem to be available … at least not yet. But can such protection for men be found? Yes. Kevlar®-lined, men’s boxer briefs do exist.
But since they’ve been developed for military use, they probably won’t be available in your favorite mall any time soon. So, if you’re looking to enhance your sense of personal security, you might look to none other than Teddy Roosevelt and take his advice to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”CC Image courtesy gopal1035 on flickr http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAkl-krbi3Q/ CC BY 2.0 CC Image courtesy dbking on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc// CC BY 2.0