PHOENIX (KSAZ) - After every mass shooting at a school there is a call for improved security. Some way to keep the next one from being so lethal. Then there's another mass shooting and another call for safer schools. Now comes a man from Flagstaff who believes he has an answer, bullet-resistant school desks.
A wall may seem strong, but it is no match for a bullet. Inventor John Birdsell of Flagstaff has brought a crew to demonstrate a product he hopes will slow the death and injury count in school shootings.
"This is something I came up with after the Parkland shooting because I got tired of seeing kids shot up in schools," said John Birdsell, School Security Solutions, LLC. "Since schools have shelter in place but no shelter that was a problem, so I decided to create a bullet resistant desk that could protect six to eight kids."
It's made from a ballistic fiberglass resin composite that can stop multiple rounds from an AR-15 or AK-47 or any lesser rifle rounds.
What does it cost? Birdsell says about $1,200 per desk.
He asserts each desk can shield six to eight kids, so the average classroom might need four to five of them.
"What we did today is look at the level of shelter a standard wall provides," explained Birdsell. "Even a .22 can penetrate a wall and kill someone. A standard wall, zero shelter, a steel door provides no shelter."
Birdsell's assault-rifle bullet resistant school desk kept the bullets from going through.
"As you can guess it is real solid. Now what does this desk weigh? The answer is about 200 pounds," said Birdsell.
A 200 pound desk that students would turn over on its side and use as a shield if an active shooter were to open fire.
Is it reasonable to ask kids to turn over something that heavy? Could the bullet-resistant desk be a safety hazard all by itself? John Birdsell says no.
"Our demonstrator was a 120 pound woman who could turn it on its side by herself, most could turn on side," says Birdsell. "So most teachers could turn it on its side and if you had say 10 year-old kids, two kids could turn it too."
Birdsell stresses that bullet-resistant desks only work if the shooter cannot get inside a classroom in the first place. So he says a steel rod could be inserted into a hole in the floor to keep the classroom door from opening.
That would leave a shooter spraying bullets inside the classroom from out in the hall with students safely shielded behind the special desks.
"I just thought there has got to be a way to provide shelter for kids," said Birdsell. "I found a product that is highly effective and affordable."
The next step for John Birdsell is finding a market for his desk. He also says that he can lower the costs of the desks by about 40 percent or more if schools build the desks themselves under a licensing agreement.
More information can be found on Birdsell's website, http://school-security-solutions.com.