What do you think of this idea?
When the 550 students at a private school in Virginia Beach recently returned to class, they walked into classrooms newly monitored by gunshot-detection technology. Acoustic sensors tucked high on walls listened for the distinct sound of gunfire, able to pinpoint its location and alert authorities. The technology also greeted students heading back to schools in Newark, Calif., and Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
These schools are among the few early adopters of military battlefield tools that today are being deployed to address a nightmare scenario much closer to home: the school shooting. The technology doesn’t stop gunfire, but supporters say it can limit the carnage by speeding up the emergency response.
Interest in these systems appears to be growing, seeded by the three major companies that make the devices and driven by school administrators grappling with how to keep students safe. Inquiries also spike after each school shooting, the latest coming Monday when a history professor was fatally shot by another professor at Delta State University in Mississippi.
But the technology has created discomfort, too. Its emergence is seen by some as a tacit admission that school shootings have become an unavoidable part of the American landscape, that classrooms are targets that need to be hardened. Some school safety experts doubt the value of gunshot-detection technology. But the industry compares its devices to fire alarms — common-sense measures that can save lives.