Friday, November 14, 2014

Active Shooter Alarm System: More Fire Alarm than Fix.

A district in Massachusetts this week unveiled the country’s first installation of a shooter-detection system inside a U.S. school that can recognize and track a gunman roaming through the building.
 A Massachusetts based company has developed a shooter detection system for schools.  Shooter Detection Systems has installed the system in one Massachusetts school with apparent plans for more systems to be fielded.  The system works similarly to existing military technology; detecting and pinpointing the location of gunfire and relaying that information to, according to an MSNBC article app sends text messages with the school name and exact location of the incident to the superintendent, principal, police chief, and school resource officer. Once alerted, the officials also can track the gunman’s movements.

While this sounds like a super cool use for technology, I cant help but notice the fire-alarm mentality behind it.  Sure, a system that tracks every time a gunshot is fired can be helpful in directing authorities to the location of the shooter so he is given a chance to either self-terminate, surrender or be incapacitated (hopefully in the face) but how useful is such technology on a broad scale against already existing systems such as eyes and ears attached to armed teachers and school LEOS?  Eyes and ears are available at no extra charge with a properly trained and willing armed school employee or a little extra room in the budget to hire a school LE officer and/or private security.  At the cost of this system (the pilot system was free of charge because of course it was) and the cost to maintain it and work out the bugs, the annal salary of an officer (probably more than one) could have been paid and the cost to train and arm teachers would be even less but obviously for some of the country the idea of arming teachers is akin to the idea of doing a gravel slip-n-slide then juggling lemons.

Dont get me wrong, I think this system is a good idea and Im not going to pretend that more shootings are not going to happen because they are.  They are going to continue to happen because we arent trying to fix the problem,  we are fighting against those trying to go after the tools that are most preferable to killers.  I see this as being pissed at a pie for baking after ignoring the fact that we put all the ingredients together and then put it in the oven.  The longer we ignore the mental health issue, the more we will seek reactive solutions that may minimize deaths but are doing little to actually prevent them.

There is a large social issue here that cant be contained or explained in a neat blog posting or even a text book.  Understanding the mind of a troubled person is not my area of operation, I work on positive solutions to mental health failures that are action in nature, but that doesnt mean I dont think theres a conversation that needs to be had in the 2A community regarding this issue.

Our society is going down the road of explaining our position with macros and memes, Facebook posts and Tweets.  I appreciate succinctness when it has a place but all the likes in the world wont stop school shootings any more than they will feed Africa.

This type of conversation plays on ignorance more than it does good will and directs the conversation into feeling accomplished just by sharing something.  Political correctness is disarming us; not directly, as our recent elections have shown us that the draconian gun control we feared following the New Town shooting is largely dead in all but the most fanatical liberal mind.  Rather, the PC mindset is going to treat mental health as an issue we are not supposed to address for fear of insulting or alienating someone and then treat the result as a fire to be prepared for by putting in an alarm. 

Well, just like most fires are caused by mans inattention, so are active shooters.  The signs are often there and in the aftermath there are almost always people stepping forward saying that threats were made or strange behavior witnessed yet that hindsight lesson is ignored.  If we ignored the dangers of gasoline soaked rags left unattended next to a dryer vent I think Natural Selection would have seen fit to remove our DNA from the world; ignoring the troubled kid with obvious signs of violent tendencies or unchecked rage is no different.  In LE we call this a clue and more investigation is probably wise and by "probably" I mean "definitely."

So while this shooter alarm may prove very useful, I see it as taking pride in the fact that the fire department is coming after ignoring the faulty wiring in the arts and crafts closet that went all dark ages on the collection of paper mache Shakespeare busts.

One more tool for a problem society is happy to whistle nervously and look at their feet to avoid. 


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