UK company wants schools to use smokescreens to defend against shootings

Scott Sutherland

In response to the rash of school shootings that has been plaguing the United States, a UK company believes that their smokescreen technology may be a way to keep children and teachers safe in the event of an armed assailant entering their classrooms.

Concept Smoke Screen has been producing security systems for banks and other businesses since the 1970s. Their Security Smoke system is capable of filling a room with a dense, non-toxic fog that acts to both obscure the intended target of an assailant or thief (be that someone they wish to harm or something they are trying to steal) and to possibly cause the perpetrator to panic and flee.

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In the case of using it in a school, they propose putting a Security Smoke unit in each classroom, and the control for each in the hands of the classroom's teacher. According to the company, with proper training and safety drills with the technology, the teachers and students would remain safe when a would-be assailant is confronted by rooms filled with smoke, rather than a group of readily-visible targets. Without knowing whether the smoke was from a fire or if it was toxic, the first instinct of the attacker(s) would be to leave, or at the very least they might remain in the corridors of the school, where police could deal with them more easily.

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Is this really a good idea, though?

The company is quick to assuage any fears about adding smoke (or at least thermally-generated fog) to an already volatile scenario, but even with training and drills, when people are in real danger, it's not unheard of for panic to set in, and students could suddenly be streaming out of classrooms, and into the line of fire. Conversely, when confronted by a classroom full of smoke, an assailant may simply open fire, spraying bullets throughout the room, or if they're reasonably familiar with the school and its use of the smoke screen system, they might just use the system to their advantage to remain hidden during their killing spree.

All in all, I'd say that this is one more idea that's just a distraction from dealing with the real issue — too many readily-available guns.

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