Placing Protection between an Active Shooter and Victims

Placing Protection between an Active Shooter and Victims

The only security that counts when face to face with tragedy

Most people are at a loss when trying to relate to the horrors and fear associated with a school or workplace shooting. Many times, people will compare the building to a warzone and the people involved as soldiers under fire. As a soldier who has experienced many warzones and operated under fire multiple times, I can relate that this is not a fair comparison.

Soldiers volunteer and train daily for the battle, long before they arrive. While the actions might be sudden, they are already at a heightened state of awareness due to the regions they occupy. No one has ever arrived at their school or place of work expecting violence that day, except for the shooter.

Therefore, it is crucial to provide a true solution by means of a ballistically sound, secure line of defense between the shooter and his intended victims, wherever they are inside the building. A permanent protective barrier that innocents can close and lock will save lives.

Secured Entry Point

A secured entry point has multiple interpretations. The outdated thought of entry points only applying to the front door or external entry points is dangerous thinking. A secured entry is needed wherever you require the separation of individuals from sensitive information or harm from their fellow man. If the intent is to shield your inhabitants from harm, it must provide a ballistic protection that will stop the shooter’s bullets. The best secured entry point will ensure the safety of the inhabitants, provide absolute confidence to the occupiers, reduce anxiety, require no additional measures or training and work seamlessly in its environment.

The term secured entry is usually held for high security buildings associated with the government or corporate entities protecting secrets. It brings to mind visions of guards, multiple gates, card key swipes and retinal scans. While this can be practical for Top Secret cleared areas, it does not apply to school of 3,000 teenagers, a college campus with 10,000 college students and the average American workplace. The critical control measure needed at the time of an active shooter is at the point where the shooter and the victim meet, and it must be controlled by the intended victim. This point occurs at the classroom, emergency room, office, breakroom or common meeting place within the building. It is crucial to control the entry to these spaces and make them safe, by placing a ballistic barrier at the point where a shooter can inflict their rage on the victim.

In honest attempts to stop an active shooter from taking lives, many precautions have been emplaced or are actively being discussed by security experts around the nation. Most set their goals at early detection in some form or with alert procedures once an incident has occurred. While all these attempts can help deter, they will not save the life of a person who is in the immediate presence of an active shooter resolute to kill.

Those who do not post their intentions on social media, will not be stopped before they arrive and pull the trigger. Metal detectors do not stop a determined attacker willing to walk through and inflict carnage. Alarms, phone apps and cameras will only work after the shots are fired and then only serve for locational and forensic evidence in the aftermath. The only lifesaving device that can alter the fate of a victim in the presence of an attacker is a bullet resistant barrier that can withstand the weapon chosen by the shooter.

Ballistic Resistant Barrier

I have personally benefitted from this protection while serving overseas in the military. My tactical vest stopped an enemy AK-47 round from entering my body and causing potentially fatal damage. This incident has given me a unique understanding of the direct benefits of ballistic barriers between myself and those who would do me harm. In that moment, exactly like coming face to face with a school or workplace shooter, the only safety measure that counted was the ballistic plate able to stop that rifle round. Over a decade of special operations training at the highest levels, vast experience in previous combat missions and all other cutting-edge gear I was issued were not a deciding factor in my survival that day. It all came down to a barrier between me and the shooter that stopped the bullet.

If the armor plate had been unable to stop the round, the result would be catastrophically different. This is crucial when determining the secured entry point level of ballistic protection. It does no good to place barriers for a small pistol if the shooter chooses to bring an assault rifle to carry out their evil plans.

As we have seen from multiple incidents, if we are to provide protection we must protect to the level necessary to overcome the threat. Sadly, as the armament of potential shooters has grown to include assault rifles and their lethal rounds, proper ballistic protection must be emplaced to counter these weapons. Not only will this ensure survivability in the occasion of a shooting incident, but it will build confidence in students and employees when they are trained on using these ballistic doors and taking refuge from a shooter. Doors equipped to the proper level that can stop bullets from entering the room will provide a sense of safety and create a better work and school environment with reduced fear and anxiety.

A True Sense of Security

By upgrading the existing door and turning it to a ballistic barrier, it will make training and actions natural for all concerned. In lockdown drills, people are taught to lock the doors and move away from them as standard active shooter protocol; this will work perfectly for a ballistic door with no change to procedures. Simply shut and lock it to create a life-saving space. The correct door will protect and boost the confidence by providing a true sense of security for everyone involved. In turn, this will ease the burden on leaders and teachers who must maintain control of groups in these extremely trying situations. All of this can be accomplished without requiring any special training sessions or adding new or additional steps to this most stressful situation.

When spree shooters set out to commit their atrocities they are looking for maximum damage in minimal time. The goal is violence for violence’s sake at the expense of any who cross their path. If a ballistic barrier can be emplaced between them and their desired victims, they are completely separated from their intention. In a properly equipped school or workplace, they will not be able to inflict the damage they intended. Their gun becomes a sledgehammer in a house of rubber walls, serving only to frustrate the user and cause no injury to his intended victims. The delays caused by having the protective door between the shooter and their victims allow the authorities to close with the shooter without loss of life during critical response transit time.

Those looking for dispersions will lament the ability to shoot through walls if they are not ballistic as well. It is unreasonable to stop all avenues of destruction available to a shooter. We cannot turn our schools, hospitals and workplaces into impenetrable fortresses. Blind shots through the walls are far less effective than those aimed with accuracy through unprotected doorways. Human nature will move a shooter to the openings to visualize his targets. It is here that a ballistic barrier will provide the protection from the well-aimed shots, cause a delay while the shooter attempts to attack and reduce the treacherous round count as the shooter wastes their ineffective bullets.

Many times, we have heard the call for a return to simpler times. While this is not possible in our acknowledgement of a modern threat, it can be possible in the best defense for that threat. We would not think of sending out those that face danger from a bullet every day without proper ballistic protection. Police and military members in harm’s way naturally put on ballistic vests every day, and these devices have saved many, many lives.

The final answer for our schools and places of work is permanent, ballistic protection from an armed assailant with an assault rifle. This type of door placed between a shooter and his intended victim will negate his attack and save lives. It is a permanent, one-time solution that will require no electrical power, no program updates, no software patches, no internet, Wi-Fi or phone connectivity and no change to current policy and training. It will simply save lives and create a better environment for all.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Campus Security Today.


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