A UK Company Proposes Using Smoke Screens to Prevent School Shootings

The solution "caters to every side," the company says.

Mass shootings across the US have sparked all manner of outcries, outrage, demands, arguments and discussions, most of them directed at politicians and the NRA. People want solutions. The debate we're having right now leaves only a few options for preventative action. We can institute stricter gun control measures, invest more money and attention in addressing mental health services, or beef up school security.

There is already movement on all of the above after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But one British company is taking the opportunity to intervene with a once-novel innovation for defending bank vaults and performing magic tricks: a smoke screen. 

On Monday, Jan. 21, the company Concept Smoke Screen posted on its website what is essentially a business proposition to anxious Americans. It reads as if it came from a sly, timid English gentlemen seated in the back of a room full of yelling Americans. "We believe we have a solution, one that should appeal to all sides," it begins. 

The pitch describes the company's innovation, a security smoke screen system developed in the UK in the 1970s to deter thieves from snatching gold bullion in special bank vaults. When a button, switch, or other mechanism is triggered, a network of pipes bolted to the ceiling above quickly pump out thick clouds of non-toxic white smoke. "Can't see it? Can't steal it!" the company says. More than protecting precious metals, the smoke system has proved to be effective in "raid scenarios" as well.

The company proposes installing one smoke system for every classroom linked to remote controls in teachers' pockets. When a gunman enters the school, teachers would corral their students into the corners of their classrooms, hit the button, and wait. "A very unique UK solution to a US problem," the company reminds readers. Here's a list of the benefits, as laid out by Concept Smoke Screen:

  • Smoke Screen protects teachers and children by hiding them so they cannot be targeted. After training and regular drills, they would quickly be able to create this 'blanket' secure in the knowledge that it is completely safe to breathe and reducing any potential anxiety that might be caused by the effect.
  • Smoke Screen provides a level of soft confrontation and confusion to the would-be murderer. They do not know if there is a fire or if it's toxic, they can't see, their instinct tells them to get away from it.
  • Smoke Screen can be set up so as to drive the gunman out into the corridors where it is easier for the authorities to deal with them.
  • Because it looks like smoke (technically it is a thermally generated fog), there is more chance that the emergency services will be called, sirens blaring.

The solution "caters to every side," the company says. But if you don't like he smoke screen idea, you can always outfit your kid with a bulletproof backpack or send him to school with a pistol and a flaregun tucked in his lunch bag.