Just another day in America – sadly: We need to address man-made threats - by Doug Haines

November 20, 2018 - Design / Build
Douglas Haines,
Haines Security Solutions

I’m sick of it. It’s just another day in America – another day when your loved one goes off to their place of work or out for a good time; to live their life and don’t come back.  

For the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California to have been prevented 

laws would have had to be written and enforced with regard to mental instability and access to firearms.  After all, the police had been to the shooters house. A mental assessment team evaluated him and concluded that he didn’t pose a threat, at least not, yet. Was there a follow up a couple months later to see how he was getting along? Was he getting better or worse? We need laws that limit a person’s access to weapons when they’re unfit and even during the time period when they’re “almost” unfit. I know the gun people will say, you’re not taking my guns away and I don’t want to. I want to keep people safe from what a person can do with a weapon if they’ve been determined by experts to be unfit in making rational decisions or are headed in that direction.  As soon, as he was evaluated the firearms he possessed, if any, should have been taken for safekeeping. And his name should have been placed on a “no buy” watch list.  These two simple steps may have been enough.  Then after he was found to be of “sound mind and body,” they could have been given back to him.

Some will say he could have bought a gun illegally. Sure, but why make it easy? Because we’re afraid of sensible restrictions our answer is to do nothing? The word sensible is the operative word here. I don’t know anyone that would argue that they want a person with mental issues to own a gun so they can use it against their own family. I don’t, do you?  Since gun possession by a person with mental health issues won’t be resolved anytime soon, we need to concentrate on what we can do. 

What we can and must do is design the environment that people occupy so that it protects them.  We do that with fire safety. We’ve enacted fire codes for high occupancy spaces within office buildings and even for residential housing. In the midwest, we have building codes for tornados and in California against earthquakes.  But, we don’t have codes to reduce the effects of man-made threats.  In fact, we even have codes for the carpet threat.  Why? 

During shooting incidents the natural reaction is to duck and seek cover.  Since this action is instinctive we should have “cover” that shields us from gunfire. There are companies making a variety of products from airport seating, to whiteboards to wall panels that actually offer ballistic protection. It should be a building code requirement that every built environment having a population density of 25 people have some form of ballistic protection incorporated into the environment, either built-in as part of the infrastructure; i.e., wall panels, reception stations in lobby areas, restaurant or airport seating, office space dividers or as an added feature later, in modular furniture, office desks and chairs, classroom workbenches/tables, mobile marker-boards, etc. Every space or building having a population of 50 or more people should have a “safe-place” that actually protects them, especially if consideration hasn’t been given to protective furniture. A multi-story building should have a safe-space, whether temporary1 or permanent, on every floor. Let’s face it people are going to seek cover. The least we should do is have that cover provide real protection.  

The good news is some types of materials used for ballistic protection also provide blast protection. I know, the likelihood of a terrorist attack using a bomb is probably pretty low for most facilities. However, recent events might indicate that that likelihood is changing, in fact, increasing. That said, an explosion caused by a natural gas leak is much more likely. Seems like there’s one everyday somewhere. 

Since we aren’t addressing man-made threats, especially those that are intentional, unfortunately there will be another shooting somewhere and it will be just another sad day in America.

Footnote:

1. https://.LandofBlueTrees.org/safespace-1

Doug Haines, MPSE, is owner/CEO of Haines Security Solutions, Ventura, Calif.

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