Lessons Learned from Sandy Hook: School Security Measures


“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Wayne LaPierre

The Connecticut State Police just recently released their initial report on the murder spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 and the details of the report confirm much of what was said in the NRA’s School Shield Report said all along.

The Connecticut State Police report can be read here.

http://www.ct.gov/csao/lib/csao/Sandy_Hook_Final_Report.pdf 

“Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones. They issue press release bragging about them. They post signs advertising them, and in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

-Wayne LaPierre

Infrastructure and School Security

Sandy Hook Elementary School had a number of vulnerabilities and infrastructure deficiencies that helped Adam Lanza to carry out his crimes.

One infrastructure problem was the glass pane to the side of the entrance door that Adam Lanza was able to shoot out and make entry into the school even though the front door was magnetically locked.

Shot out Glass to the right

This is not a secure door! The glass pane to the right was shot out by Adam Lanza to make entry into the school

The easiest fix for this is for schools to install bullet-resistant glass (that is rated to stop rifle fire) on windows that are floor level and can be walked through like a sliding porch door.

This is how Adam Lanza made his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School.

This is how Adam Lanza made his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The interior doors to the classrooms were not easily lockable by the teachers. The Connecticut State Police report stated that teacher Victoria Soto died with a set of keys in her hand. There are also eyewitness accounts that a janitor ran from door to door in the building until one of his keys broke off in a door.

Interior classroom doors should be magnetically lockable via keycard or lockable by way of a deadbolt switch that the teachers all have a key to.

It would be prudent to arrange a classroom’s chairs, tables, and chalkboards  so that the teacher is not standing in front of the classroom door while teaching. The space in front of the classroom door is the “fatal funnel”.

Schools should have a lock-down alarm with a distinct klaxon noise that distinguishes it from the fire alarm. This same alarm should also summon the police like a bank alarm does.

Trauma Kits should be readily available in classrooms in case of an emergency (think of how electronic defibrillators are placed throughout buildings nowadays).

Police Officers in Schools

Considering that Adam Lanza was able to murder 26 people in 11 minutes even though the Newtown Police Department got to the school in 4 minutes after the first 911 call, having police officers in close proximity can save lives.

There are these newfangled technologies like e-mail, teleconferencing, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that allow 1-2 police officers to be set up in a small office or  substation in the local elementary and high schools.

Thoughts on Arming Teachers

The option should be available for teachers to be armed and capable of protecting their students, but in order for it to be effective certain practical considerations must be accounted for.

  • Coordination
    • The school should be completely on board with armed teachers and they need to be incorporated into the school security plan and coordinated with the local police and first responders.
  • Mindset
    • It is dangerous to force anyone to carry a gun who does not want to.
  • Planning the Response
    • Schools and local police departments need to “war game” their school for an attack like Sandy Hook.
    • Pay attention to doors that can be easily breached.
    • The rooms that are closest to the point of breach are in the most danger.
  • Training
    • The training course must go beyond a basic handling and marksmanship course
    • The training course should teach concepts such as the “fatal funnel”, reloads, deployment of a trauma bandage, and some rudimentary knife fighting.
    • Weapon Retention is critical!
      • An armed teacher must be trained to account for their gun when in the restroom (most likely place to lose a gun).
    • Force on Force Sessions are critical for stress inoculation and preparation.
  • Weapon and Equipment Selection
    • The quick access safe method
      • Any gun safe in a classroom must be bolted to the floor or the wall.
      • Teachers must take their personal firearm home at night.
      • The key lock safe is just too slow to open.
      • The four button quick access safe runs a risk of being “hacked” by way of trial and error, shoulder surfing, fingerprint smearing, or button wear guessing.
      • Hornady’s upcoming RFID based handgun safe shows promise in this area.
      • If using a bio-metric quick access safe, then fingerprint programming and  replacement schedules for the batteries must be maintained.
      • The school security office should stay up to date on any vulnerabilities that the gun safes in use at the school may have.
    • Carry Method, Holster and Belt
      • I will say it again. Weapon retention is critical!
      • I would prefer concealed carry far more than open carry as open carry would be a distraction.
      • The holster that any armed teacher uses should facilitate a smooth draw while allowing the teacher to securely retain the weapon at all times. 
      • Due to the risk of theft, off body carry (such as in a purse) is just not safe for this particular environment.
      • The gun must be worn in a way that can minimize pick-pocketing.
        • Small of the Back carry and Behind the Hip carry should not be considered for this reason.
      • The holster must cover the trigger guard
      • The holster must be a rigid leather or rigid kydex holster. No floppy nylon holsters.
      • The holster must securely fasten to the gun belt.
      • The gun belt worn must be a belt that is explicitly designed to brace a holster.
    • Gun and Ammunition Selection
      • The cartridge chosen must minimize over-penetration yet maintain lethality.
      • A small to medium size double-action only revolver is unobtrusive, easy to conceal, and simple to use and would may be an optimal weapon for a teacher to carry if they choose to do so simply by virtue of its unobtrusiveness.
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Posted in Child Safety, Concealed Carry, Gun Safety, In the News, True Crime

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