In recent years, you may have noticed an increase in headlines relating to violence and the rise in shootings at churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques across the U.S. This isn’t just in your head; the statistics point to a steady increase in these incidents throughout the past several years.
The rise in shootings at places of worship is truly a troubling trend. Though there are some factors at play that faith leaders and members of their communities have no control over, there are also steps available to protect these facilities and their congregations, including bullet proof glass. Of course, ballistic glass and other physical security measures can’t guarantee complete safety. And many places of worship may choose to enact other protection measures alongside these facility upgrades as well.
However, it is important for leaders at these places of worship to understand the risks and consider all the options for providing the highest level of protection available. To learn more about the rise in shootings at places of worship across the U.S. and some of the safety measures available to help protect these facilities and their visitors, here’s a quick guide.
What You Should Know About the Rise in Shootings at Places of Worship
Mass shootings are on the rise in the U.S. in general. These acts of violence seem to make headlines on a regular basis. In fact, in 2019, there were 417 mass shootings throughout the country — more than one for each day of the year. Of course, not all of these events occur at places of worship. There have been shootings at schools, shopping centers, movie theaters, and a variety of other locations. However, hate crimes at religiously significant locations have been part of this growing trend — and these crimes are especially troubling for many who visit places of worship on a regular basis.
More specifically, the FBI has found a 35 percent increase in hate crimes at places of worship, including churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues, between 2014 and 2018. Some of the most noteworthy events include a 2015 shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, a 2018 shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and a 2017 shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. While these events drew a lot of headlines, there have also been smaller shootings and violent events that occur even more often, sometimes without major nationwide news coverage. And according to statistics, the problem is only getting worse with each passing year.
Though the first part of 2020 has seen a decrease in attendance at these places of worship largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general trend points to an increase in violent incidents again once attendance increases back to pre-pandemic levels. And there have still been some shootings and attempts in recent months, including a shooting at an Indianapolis mosque and one at a Catholic church in California.
How Bullet Proof Glass Can Help
There are many schools of thought about how to best combat mass shootings and violence at places of worship. Expansive initiatives like gun control measures and mental health programs are largely out of the hands of faith leaders, at least directly. However, taking steps to protect their specific facilities is something that rests squarely in their control.
Bullet proof products are one option for shoring up security and providing an extra layer of protection for parishioners or visitors. This measure involves securing entrances and surrounding areas with doors, windows and glazing materials that can resist ballistic attack. These products are specially designed and tested to UL752 standards which provide absolute protection allowing for no penetration of multiple rounds as well as no dangerous spall of glass to the interior. Increased aluminum wall thickness for doors and window frames along with laminated glass and polycarbonate glazing provides the desired protection while still allowing for an open and inviting appearance that is aesthetically pleasing.
Though these products provide added safety and security over traditional windows and doors, it’s important to understand that there is no truly “bullet proof glass” that can withstand an unlimited ballistic assault. These products are made to provide a strong source of protection against specific threats ranging from a 9mm handgun (UL752 – Level 1) to multiple shots from a high powered rifle (UL752 – Level 8). For this reason it is very important to determine the potential threat posed and to select products which will provide the appropriate level of protection.
In addition to providing a physical barrier that’s more difficult to breach, even with high powered weapons, the presence of bullet proof glass systems at places of worship can sometimes deter violent acts from occurring in the first place. Attackers often look for easy targets. So installing protective systems may make people think twice about an attack. And if one does occur, it can take intruders longer to actually inflict damage, giving first responders more time to get to the scene and apprehend those in question before they can fully carry out their violent plans.
If you’re looking for bulletproof glass materials or ballistic glass to provide extra protection for places of worship, contact Insulgard to discuss your options. We offer a wide array of protective systems, including bullet resistant door system, bulletproof panels, and even hurricane and tornado proof doors for community safe rooms. Our team can walk you through the entire process, from talking through the material options and ratings to helping you find qualified installers in your area. When you’re ready to find the ballistic glass solutions that are best suited to your needs, contact our team to get started and we’ll walk you through the options.