Since tighter gun laws remain a distant dream, American school students are taking matters into their own hands.
While those from the recent Florida school shooting are organising a nationwide rally to call for stricter gun control laws, others are building contraptions to keep them safe if or when a mass shooting happens in their schools.
One such student is Justin Rivard from Somerset High School in Wisconsin. He built the “JustinKase” – a long, metal gadget that can be fixed to the base of a doorway that will bolt the door stronger than just a lock, according to Quartz.
“The main problem was all these kids are in a building with nothing but a door to keep them safe”, Rivard said in a WCCO TV Minneapolis interview.
So effective is the JustinKase that his high school principal Shannon Donnelly has convinced the school board to buy 50 of them for every classroom in the high school at US$95 each. Later, more were bought for its middle and elementary schools, and even for a neighbouring district.
“I truly believe this device is going to save lives,” Donnelly said.
Students elsewhere are creating similar gadgets.
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At Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington DC, a team of students came up with DeadStop, a door-locking mechanism to stop active shooters from entering a classroom. It’s a detachable metal clamp around the closed arm-like hydraulic hinge at the top of the school’s classroom doors – an affordable solution compared to more expensive or less appropriate ones already in the market.
Fortifying doors make sense, according to experts. National Association of School Resource Officers executive director Moe Kennedy believes locked doors make a big difference.
Speaking to NPR, Kennedy said: “Typically, in the traditional active shooter scenario or situations that have occurred over the years, shooters have had a tendency to pass locked doors, to not go through a locked door.”
“They’re looking for easy, quick targets.”
Simple tools are also surfacing as possible ways to keep students safe during active shooter situation.
A Connecticut woman gave her nieces rubber door stoppers to keep in their backpacks to be used if the situation calls for it, according to her post on Facebook, which has since gone viral.
“If a gunman shoots out the door lock it will still keep the door from opening and may just buy you some time,” she wrote.
These devices reveal the ingenious ways ordinary citizens are trying to improve the country’s “unparalleled epidemic of gun violence”. More than 150,000 students in at least 170 schools in the US have experienced a campus shooting since 1999’s attack at Columbine High School, as estimated by The Washington Post.
The devices above may be simple, but they sure sound a lot better than a proposal by a school to shift its emergency policies to get students and teachers to “charge” at a shooter instead of hiding in the back of the room.