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Bulletproof Whiteboards, and Other School Safety Delusions

Feel-good idiocy at a school district in Minnesota.

by
Bob Owens

Bio

May 1, 2013 - 12:00 am

The Rocori School District in Minnesota has recently adopted an “interesting” potential solution to the threat of an active school shooter: “bulletproof” whiteboards for each classroom:

A central Minnesota school district that was the site of a school shooting in 2003 is getting a new device designed to help keep kids safe: bulletproof whiteboards.

The Rocori School District plans to put one of the whiteboards in every classroom to add another layer of defense if a gunman enters school grounds.

The boards are designed by Maryland-based Hardwire LLC and they can hang on a wall and be used in class, just like any traditional marker board.

Hardwire LLC manufactures these armored whiteboards. This is a reputable defense contractor that has created armor systems for government (primarily military) clients, as well as a line of school safety products of which these whiteboards are a part.

I am sure that their NIJ level 3A armor meets federal standards, as they claim. That allowed, calling their armor (or any other armor) “bulletproof” is dishonest marketing, and the 18″x20″ armored whiteboard is either an inept attempt at making the best of a bad situation, or a cynical attempt to exploit fearful school districts that want to appear to be doing “something” in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Let’s take a look at how this armor might perform.

The only way this armor could be deployed and have even the slightest chance of working is by having it deployed at chokepoints, such as the exterior doors leading into the school and the doors leading into the classroom. In many schools the exterior doors are made of glass and are easily defeated with a rock, much less a firearm. The interior doors are neither bullet-resistant nor even lockable in most schools. Faculty and staff would be required to hold the armored whiteboard at the presumably indefensible, unlocked, non-bullet resistant doors, much like the teacher modeling the device on the Hardwire web site:

Hardwire LLC 18″x20″ armored whiteboard.

You’ll notice that an 18″x20″ whiteboard will only cover part of the head and torso of even a relatively petite teacher like the one in the photo. An active shooter would have no trouble at all shooting over, under, or around the armor, easily killing the person holding the armor with any firearm.

In the bizarre and unlikely event that an active shooter didn’t just simply shoot around the whiteboard, there is an apparent assumption that a teacher or administrator holding the armor would be capable of retaining it as it is struck by the impact of a bullet or a shotgun blast. Do we really expect that an average teacher or administrator is going to be able to handle the concussive force of a bullet and to retain the whiteboard in a defensible position?

It is far more likely the board would simply be shot out of their hands or the teacher knocked down with the first or second shot, if the shooter doesn’t simply opt to shoot around the 18″x20″ panel. If a shooter armed with a shotgun loaded with slugs or buckshot were to fire at close range against the whiteboard, there is the distinct possibility that the whiteboard would be ripped from the defending teacher’s hands and turned into an injury-producing projectile itself.

Then, there is the problem of the armor not actually being bulletproof.

As noted on the Hardwire LLC website, the armor is rated NIJ 3A, which will in carefully controlled conditions stop a majority of pistol bullets and shotgun blasts. However, this armor class will not stop intermediate-caliber rifle rounds as small as .223 Remington, much less have the desired effect on more substantial rifle rounds.

The whiteboard concept, allegedly inspired by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, would not have stopped or even slowed down the shooter in that instance. He was armed with a rifle chambered in .223 Remington that would have sliced through the armor.

I would not claim that the Hardwire LLC armored whiteboard is entirely useless; it might buy first responders another few seconds as the shooter figures out the device is an armored panel, and adapts to overcome its limited protection. In very limited instances where a shooter is not hell-bent on mass murder, it may buy another second or two for them to reconsider their course of action.

But primarily, the whiteboard serves to provide peace of mind for those who prefer to not think critically about how an actually shooting event would likely unfold.

Real school security — or security anywhere, for that matter — only works when active and passive systems work together to mitigate threats. The best single defense against a potential active shooter is still the presence of another human being on-site armed with a firearm and equipped with the knowledge and training of how to use their weapon effectively. This generally means on-campus law enforcement, armed security guards, or armed staff.

Only lethal force is proven to stop active shooters. All else provides little more than an illusion of safety.

Also read:  

The Most Effective, Logical Solution: Arming School Staff

 

Bob Owens blogs at Bob-Owens.com.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (22)
All Comments   (22)
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The leadership of he education behemoth is totally socialist/progressive/big government oriented. They are not interested in the children but for how their presence every day puts $$$ in their pockets. The obvious solution to the kids protection is to put armed individuals into schools and petition government to deal with the mental cases who go after kids.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
BOB......don't keep repeating the lies of the LameStreamMedia...........the Sandy Hook guy was armed with PISTOLS........not the .223 Remington ( Bushmaster ).....that was found unfired in the trunk of his car. !!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Theres a fool born every minute in the U.S. and that is, in large part today, what keeps our economy alive in good times and bad times.

Interior door -- "nor even lockable in most schools."

Newer schools I'm familar with have classroom doors in which teachers can key-lock the outside of the door from inside the classroom (door opens to inside) and reclose it when a special intrusion alarm goes off from the administration stations or a classroom station. Of course, classroom exterior windows essentially defeats this security measure. The only way to really fortify our schools is build prison compounds with multiple layers of external and internal security -- $$$$$'s
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
But we have to do *SOMETHING*!!!1!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
And what's to keep the shooter from using it as a shield against the police when it finally gets there?

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
It seems to me that you could demolish the credibility of this idea very quickly. Just let the school administrators read this article, then defy any of them to try holding on to one of the armored whiteboards while someone takes a couple of shots at it. Film the experiment so that others can learn from it.

I'd be curious to know if any of the school administrators are stupid enough to volunteer. I would just about bet my life that they won't escape uninjured if they DO try the experiment.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Schools need no excuses t spend/waste more money, they find plenty of ways to do that.

The only common sense measure to minimize the damage a nutcase with a gun can do in a school is to designate and allow teachers or support staff that are qualified and trained to carry concealed weapons. They could drop the nutcase before he/she kills 20 people.

Of course since it makes sense and would cost very little the emotion driven left will squeal like little pigs. When will we learn that decisions based on emotion are wrong 99% of the time?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Somebody's brother-in-law is going to make a lot of money on this; which is the entire point of government contracts.

Or... they could just arm some school personnel.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, that makes too much sense;)
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
It also requires that you trust the people.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Judging from my experiences in school, I would never even consider the thought of arming a teacher. The frustrations they put up with are incalculable and it can only increase the chances of school shootings.

I cannot speak for the entire country, but here in the Southeast the schools tend to be quite small and poor. Most suggestions of airport-style entrance-checks, bullet-proof materials, and security cameras are based on the assumption that the schools (and, by extension, the local governments) are competent enough to fund and manage such programs. Usually, whenever a school gets any kind of special funding, it is somehow shoehorned into the football program. The only act I ever saw was the stationing of a single police officer to each school - but since he generally didn't do anything, they usually sent the most incompetent guys on the force.

This whole trend of school shootings is not going to end because we put up better defenses. It is a cancer on our society and the only way to treat it is to remove it, not quarantine it. The problem here is that this issue begins in the home, and nobody wants to tell their neighbor to man up and father his son.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
An accurate revelation of human nature and common sense.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The frustrations they put up with are incalculable and it can only increase the chances of school shootings."

Uh-huh. Because anyone with a firearm just whips it out and blazes away to deal with their frustrations.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Because anyone with a firearm just whips it out and blazes away to deal with their frustrations."

Right. Teachers are renown for being responsible, reasonable individuals. I wouldn't trust the teachers I knew with a squirt-gun, much less a real firearm.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is going to stop the shooter from shooting the legs out from under the person holding the shield and then shooting them in the head? By the way, the hiding under the table was supposed to help people from falling debris from the result of an indirect blast such as schools that were several miles away. Someone in a city like New York you might as well consider yourself blown away.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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