"For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."
- H. L. Mencken
The old phrase, "complex problems require complex solutions," is true now more than ever before. Whether you're discussing solutions to the federal budget deficit, international relations, treating mental illness or improving public safety, there are no easy, quick fixes.
There may be one thing we in the American fenestration industry can do after the terrible event in Newtown, Conn., and the many irrational, violent shootings and bombings we've all witnessed over the past decades in this country. As building product and construction professionals, we can offer greater safety by educating design professionals, building owners and public officials about threat-resistant products and design techniques. It's obviously not the only step we need to take to improve public safety, but it is one step.
Maybe that laminated door glass or bullet-resistant door will buy a little more time for the response teams to come to the scene. Maybe glass-clad polycarbonate panels or blast windows will keep someone from becoming a victim. Replacing that broken school window with laminated glass instead of annealed might possibly slow down that emotionally disturbed person just long enough to save a life.
We all want to look directly out the first-floor window, but we might have to give that up. We may have to recommend to designers that they use more skylights, translucent panels and clerestories to give occupants daylighting in first-floor and low-rise buildings. Perhaps replacing the cracked first-floor window with textured glass or obscure panels at eye level will keep a madman from thinking of students and teachers as targets.
You can't stop crazy. You can't stop an insane, emotionally violent person from obtaining destructive means of harming people, whether they use a fist, knife, gun or bomb. However, perhaps we can educate those charged with designing and constructing buildings about ways to protect us a little longer and slow down those who would harm others.
"Growing up, I was taught that a man has to defend his family. When the wolf is trying to get in, you gotta stand in the doorway." - B. B. King
Rod Van Buskirk is the third-generation owner of Bacon & Van Buskirk Glass Co., with locations in Champaign and Springfield, Ill. A past NGA Chairman, Rod looks quarterly at the industry from the middle of nowhere, steals ideas from anyone he can and pretends to know what he’s talking about. Rod invites your comments as you are certainly smarter than he is.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.