Experts Don’t See Door Control as School Shooting Remedy

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Could doors be the culprit in school shootings? Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a gun-rights proponent, said after the Santa Fe High School shooting that “there are too many entrances and too many exits to our more than 8,000 campuses in Texas.” The remark became a talking point for supporters of gun control, a punchline about how Republicans would rather restrict doors than guns, the Washington Post reports. “Guns don’t kill people, doors do,” went the sarcastic recap of the implicit assumptions in Patrick’s comment. Three security experts discussed whether Patrick’s proposal had any merit. Scott Zimmerman of K17 Security in Rockville, Md., called redesigning buildings to be more secure a potential hurdle for budget-stretched public schools in aging buildings. “A lot of these doors are not built for security,” he said. “Weak locks and weak doors. If you’re going to compensate for that, that adds up very quickly.”

Ed Hinman of Gavin de Becker & Associates, a security consulting firm based in Los Angeles, was more supportive of limiting building entrances, but said “the biggest thing missing in active shooting training or physical security is it’s too reactive. There’s not a lot of focus on the early identification of someone  … who’s disgruntled, talking about firearms, making threats. And so much of the evidence shows that with these school shooters, there’s a lot of warning signs.” Arnette Heintze of Hillard Heinze in Chicago,  said of Santa Fe High School, “You can’t have one exit and entrance for 1,400 people. Then you create a killing field for someone.” He added, “I’d hate for America to … get distracted by feeling there is a failure in school security design … You can’t put armed guards at every school entrance in America; it’s not going to happen. It’s educating our society about those behaviors.”

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