As a fellow member of the glass industry, I am guessing that you get a ton of questions about glass from family, friends and even acquaintances who seek you out at everything from cocktail parties to kids’ soccer games, looking for the answers to their questions about glass. Though the approaches may differ and the actual questions vary, they are all singular in purpose. I have found they all want just one thing; they want proof.
Consider the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., which put a Christmastime break in the collective heart of this country. I am sure you heard the reports the gunman had broken through the glass door’s sidelite to gain entry into the school. And I would guess that you were asked, as were I, Julie Schimmelpeningh and countless others, if “bullet-proof” glass would have helped. In fact, a session at last week’s Glass Association of North America talked quite a bit about school safety and changes as a result of increased priority.
That handy-dandy term “bullet-proof” glass is everywhere. In fact, if you see the movie Zero Dark 30, you’ll note that one character was told she avoided death in an ambush because of it. “Thank God for bullet-proof glass,” she was told after an attack on her car.
While “bullet-proof” is a great term–heck, it’s as good as “bomb-proof” or “hurricane-proof”–it’s also just as phony. When people ask me about bullet-proof glass, I tell them what I believe to be the truth. “There is really no such thing as bullet-proof glass,” I say, “the term is a misnomer, because given enough time and weaponry power, any glass will be defeated eventually. The better term is bullet-resistant glass. There are different types and levels of bullet-resistant glass, ranging all the way up to multiply glass-clad polycarbonates that you see in some high-security facilities. And they are very effective.”
So could bullet-resistant glass keep tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School from happening? Doubtful when you have a person as loaded with fire power as the gunman there was. But what every level of bullet-resistant glass does offer is time. If a gunman needs two or three minutes to breach an opening, instead of 20 or 30 seconds that might make a difference in the future. It’s sad we even have to have this conversation, but we do.