Expert Says Wired Glass Doors And Windows Could Save Lives During School Shootings

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Educators and law enforcement officials gathered at Wayland High School to learn more about how they can protect children at school from violence.

Author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman spoke on a number of issues during his presentation including his feeling that schools need to change the makeup of their glass entry doors.

He said that’s how a number of killers gained access to the classroom and hallways in some of America’s most deadly school shootings.

“I was there on the night of the massacre at Jonesboro. I was there at Virginia Tech. I was there after Columbine,” said Grossman. “Not a single kid has been killed by school fire in over 50 years.  How many kids killed by school violence?”

Grossman said in 1997 there were 57 victims of school violence and by 2006, that number had climbed to 63 dead. With 27 killed during the Sandy Hook shooting, he said another all-time high will be reached for last year’s school year.

He said one of the most important things we can do is to learn from the past, that includes shoring up doors and windows where shooters can break the glass in order to get in.

“In Sandy Hook Elementary School, the killer shot out the glass and stepped in to murder everybody,” said Grossman. “In Columbine High School, 12  of the 13 murdered were murdered in the library and the killer shot out the glass and stepped in the library. In Red Lake Minnesota, we had seven dead in Red Lake Minnesota High School, and six of them were murdered  in a classroom where the killer shot out the glass and reached in and opened the door.”

He says schools can change the odds by adding a wire barrier to those windows and glass areas to keep perpetrators from reaching in to unlock the doors.

“For about 500 years we’ve had the technology to put wire mesh in the window or put a laminate film on the window. You don’t even know it’s there. You shoot can shoot holes all day long and they’re not reaching though to kill our kids.”

Grossman said another common denominator involved in the school shootings, violent video games. He said research has shown that all the shooters frequently played those games.

“We know, all the school killers have one thing in common, violent video games. They really are the common denominators in these killers,” said Grossman. “The worst high school massacres have been in Europe. Germany’s had two massacres in the high school by students that beat Columbine….and they all have one thing in common, they drop out of life and immerse themselves in the sickest video games. They are taught to take pleasure from human death and suffering.”

“We’ve got the brain scans to show that the violent visual imagery that video games in particular put them in a constant fight or flight realm. The research is clear. Adults can handle it, kids can’t.”

He said studies have shown once the video games are removed from the equation, quality of life improves for those who aren’t playing them.

“Stanford Medical School pioneered turn off TV and especially video games for a week…cut violence in half, cut bullying in half and raised test scores,” said Grossman.

The Entertainment Consumer’s Association, the lobbying arm of the video game industry, disputes claims linking violent video games to shootings. They point to countries like the Netherlands, Japan and South Korea where violent video games are prevalent and gun violence is very low.

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  • ivan

    One thing they all have in common is violent video games. Sure but don’t forget that SSRI were also present in the systems of all those shooters.

  • Debra Levy

    While Lt. Grossman's intent is good, he has provided serious and dangerous misinformation about glass. Wired glass in NOT a safety glazing material. In fact, it is not as strong as even laminated or tempered glass. There have been numerous accidents where kids in schools have been hurt or even killed after impacting wired glass. In fact, its use in schools is outlawed in at least one state for this reason. There are bullet-reistant and impact-resistant glasses there that would be of benefit in school attacks. Our magazine, USGlass, devoted a whole issue to this. Wired glass is not one of them.

  • LAArchitect

    What a riddiculous theory. It certainly isn't factual. Wired glass is outlawed in my state and many others, for use in schools. It is NOT safe. Glass needs to be tempered or laminated with multiple lites to be considered safety glass. Wired glass is dangerous. It is not tempered and breakage of wired glass leads to injuries and fatalities.

  • LAArchitect

    To imply that wired glass is a saviour and a panacea for all things relating to safety is not only a disservice but also incorrect. I have designed facilities hardened against attack for the Louisiana State Police, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness agencies and the military. The proper application of bullent or blast resistant glazing and frames is one solution. It is quite simple to break the glass and bend back or cut through the wire in a matter of minutes. I've seen it done by a janitor breaking into a classroom building (built in the 1950's) where a small child had been locked in. The janitor simply broke the glass with a hammer, used the claw to knock out the shards, then used the claw to bend back the wire. He reached around to the door and unlocked it and saved the day. Wired glass will stop no one who is determined to gain entry, and will only be a constant danger to people on both sides, should it ever break.

  • Honig sasha

    Securing the school premise with the modern security systems can help us to get alerts if anything bad happened. These kind of systems can monitor them 24/7 without a fail. You should be very careful while selection of new or replacement windows. Wired fixtures will be surely a good choice to improve security factor. Making the prone areas bullet proof can also assist this to a great extend I guess. I prefer going through this residential window installation site to know more about installation quality checking

  • Andy

    As another architect, I'd like to second the statements of my colleagues below: It is hugely irresponsible to imply that wired glass is a solution for school shootings. Wired glass is a product we once thought was safe but now know is highly dangerous if broken; it should NEVER be used in the doors of a school building. The only kind of glass that will isolate targeted people from a shooter is bullet-proof glass in a bullet-proof frame. (And this assumes that you've somehow locked the doors and windows, and that the shooter will not simply shoot through the wall. Since school shooters are mostly school children shooting in their own schools, I'm not sure why we're focusing on physical security aiming to keep people out who are probably ALREADY in…)

  • Michael

    I am pretty sure that they can reduce potential risk. However, it doesn't cure a problem, which is deeply rooted in this decayed society.
    It is a good signal, that they come up with solutions like pocket doors, but the origins of the problem should be targeted instead.

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