Thursday, December 20, 2012

Averting the worst case consquences from violent actors

I read this today about bulletproof backpacks for children and arming teachers, and so I write this brief post.

Putting a crunchy shell around the little piggy should not be the first thing to think about if you are trying to thwart big bad wolves.

If you want to avoid a big bad wolf, you don't build a straw house then sit inside it holding a gun that you're not sure how to use, dressed in an outfit that makes you harder to chew.

Of course, first you build a brick house or a castle.

Then even better, you set up a perimeter around your house that will detect the presence of big bad wolves and inhibit their approach. On the brick house's lawn you have all manner of things that detect things that seem to be big bad wolves and alert you to their presence.

Then, once they approach the brick house, you make it more difficult to get in. Castles had a great security mechanism called a "bent entrance". Basically, it was a hallway that an attacker had to walk through with at least one turn in it. This meant that they wouldn't see what was beyond that turn, and also that the entrance could be instrumented with windows and angled archer's windows, and which closed remotely at the far end. But it wasn't so obstructive that significant traffic could not move in and out of the castle under normal circumstances.

So, if they get to that point, you have the big bad wolf in a bent entrance.

If the wolf has the wherewithal to break into the door at the end of the bent entrance, upon their first attempt the most urgent and alarming klaxon possible should sound, along with a silent alarm that would call help.

This allows everyone in the castle to get to battle positions or safety, depending on their role, and alerts the countryside.

But if the door is broken, then, on the other side of the door is another bent entrance! And then, when they went through the broken door, a door that would slide down on the other side of the broken door! You see?  Now you've trapped the wolf.

All during this time people inside the castle are manning the archer's windows that point into the bent entrances and the people who aren't archers have gotten into their safe positions.

Now the wolf is trapped and surrounded by arrows.

Also, these things needn't be medieval or prison-like in their function or aesthetic. In a bank lobby, there is significant security, and even more security between a person in the lobby and the vault, and bank lobbies can be pleasant enough. Surely a classroom full of children is worth more than what's in a bank vault.

If we think about the most recent tragedies perpetrated by wolves, we see that no alarms at all were triggered upon the initial illicit entry. Remember the video of the 9/11 hijacker strolling through airport security? Recall the description of the person entering the back entrance of the movie theatre? Think about how loud a firearm is and then realize that people inside a building whose door is being shot open either still can't hear it or understand the implication of the sound they are hearing?

Then, think about how the most recent shooter incident on the Virginia Tech campus after their initial tragedy was thwarted by a series of sightings of someone walking along with something that appeared to be a rifle, how these sightings were conveyed immediately to authorities and how the police swarmed over the campus while faculty locked down and students sheltered in place. Nobody was shot, no shots were fired. Was it a false alarm?

If it was or wasn't, who cares? It had a happy ending.


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