The Proof is in the Proof

I can’t imagine anyone who watched the children of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on TV not being moved by their determination to stop what happened from ever happening again. It was especially moving to see so many of the journalism students there convey their message with poise and grace beyond their years. I think of them, and the parishioners in the South Carolina and Texas churches who forgave their assailant, the first responders in Las Vegas and the parents at Sandy Hook who go forward despite their loss. At the same time, I draw inspiration from them, I am drained from sadness that such inspiration is born from tragedy—over and over again.

This story is not about guns, it’s about glass because once again, sadly and tragically, glass is a misunderstood footnote to the story. In the aftermath of the shooting, there’s been a lot of discussion about how the glass at the school was not “bullet-proof.” There was even a report (which we covered on our daily news service, USGNN.com™) that the death and injury toll would have been much higher had “hurricane-proof” glass not stopped the murderer from breaking out a window on the third floor and shooting more students as they lined up and moved away from the scene.

I am a bit haunted by the catch in the voice of one survivor, David Hogg, the school’s news editor, who voiced his concern on ABC’s This Week last week that even now, the glass was not being replaced with bullet-proof glass. Though he tried admirably to hide it, his voice resonated in concern.

So a few things. First, as we all in the glass business know, there is no “proof” glass. There is no burglary-proof glass, no hurricane-proof glass, no fireproof glass, no bomb-proof glass and, sadly, no such thing as bullet-proof glass. There are, however, glasses with properties that resist these conditions, to varying degrees. There are glasses with increasing degrees of hurricane-resistance, blast-mitigation, acoustical-mitigation, burglar-resistance and yes, bullet-resistance. If someone tells you the glass any “proof” other than foolproof, question their knowledge. Find out exactly how much resistance to what you are trying to resist the glass offers and you’ll know exactly the limits of that resistance.

Second, don’t blame the glass. There are a lot of entities that deserve blame, but glass is pretty far down a long sad list.

Finally, I don’t want David Hogg or any of his classmates to worry that their glass is not bullet-resistant. I am going to work on that. Those kids—and they are kids—deserve that peace of mind.

They deserve that and more. I grew up during the era of “duck and cover” when we had nuclear bomb drills in school. I venture to say everyone who experienced those drills remembers them. They also remember sitting under those desks or out in the hallway understanding that such a threat could be real. It was scary to carry for a lifetime. These kids will carry what they have been through for their lifetimes. They can’t unsee it, unhear it or unfeel it. Things must change.

No one wants to write, cover or, more importantly, live through, a story like this one more time. The real proof is in not letting it happen again.

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