I have seen a few articles recently about devices designed to protect students and teachers at schools in an “active shooter situation.” While it is a wonderful thought, the claims made by the inventors of these devices are just a bit too optimistic. Unfortunately these won’t stop a shooter. They would merely delay, or redirect them. Here are links to two such devices.
The first thing that I want to address is the claim that these will “stop a gunman.” No, they actually won’t. These devices do about as much to stop a gunman as changing lanes does to stop a runaway semi. The gunman would still be there, and would still able to shoot indiscriminately. It would still take an intervention by an armed individual to stop the shooter. These devices would only protect the people in a classroom with the presence of mind to deploy the tool BEFORE the shooter entered the room. Once the shooter has entered the room, they can then use the device to prevent or delay any intervention by anyone who would actually stop the shooter. An entire classroom full of children just became victims because of your device.
These also depend on the functionality of the door, or even the layout of the school. Not all doors open outward. At my high school, depending on the classroom, some doors opened inward. These devices would be precisely useless in that situation. At an elementary school that I attended in the 5th grade, and another one that my son attended in Kindergarten, the school had a “revolutionary” open design. This meant that there are no doors at all, but rather one large common area that was then separated into “learning areas” instead of classrooms by simple things like a row of low bookshelves. The only use one of these devices would have at a school like that, is as an object to throw at the shooter, or again, as a tool for the shooter to delay any intervention.
These devices could also work against the teachers. Students are not always the perfect little angels that we would hope them to be. I was a student once, as I’m sure you were too, and I was not a perfect little angel. If you tell me you were, you’re a liar. How long would it take for a student to place one of these on the door to the chemistry lab, keeping the teacher out, while the students then tried to discover what actually happens when you mix pure potassium with water, or mix ammonia and bleach? Now emergency services are locked out of the room as well, when seconds would be precious to each child’s life. These devices are meant to spare lives, but again, they could be just as costly.
Items like these are a placebo. They only give a false sense of security, but no actual security is provided by them. Without direct intervention, an individual bent on destruction of lives and property would continue on, and devices like this would only delay, or redirect them. And then when it comes time for emergency services, such as EMTs or Police to render aid, you’ve also effectively locked them out of the room as well. If any of the children in the room need immediate medical attention, congratulations, you just killed them for the crazed psychopath. If it will delay the bad guy, it will also delay the good guy. They are not magical force-fields that just “know” to let the good guys pass.
While I do appreciate that some people are trying to paint outside the lines when trying to come up with a solution to a rare problem, I don’t appreciate the fact that they are so narrow-minded and singly focused as to not account for ALL of the variables involved. Think of what actually stopped every school shooter in the past. Chances are it was armed intervention. If we can get armed intervention to the school faster, then the casualty count drops significantly. The fastest we can get armed intervention is to have it already present when the deranged lunatic arrives. Instead of pinning our hopes on a piece of metal or a bicycle cable lock, I would rather have a solution that actually stops them. Let’s actually stop the threat, and not just cause the out of control semi to change lanes.