$5 Peephole Might Have Prevented UA Campus Shooting Death; Universities Still Not Taking Threats of Campus Shooters Seriously
$5 Peephole Could Have Saved The Life Of A UA Professor
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 10, 2022) – A professor might be alive today if the University of Arizona [UA] had spent less than $5 to install a peephole – of the type used at even the cheapest motels – in his office door.
Especially once UA had learned that there was a dangerous former student of the professor repeatedly lurking around campus, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, a former security official and security consultant.
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This demonstrates that many if not most universities have failed to take even the simplest and least expensive precautions against the ever-growing number of murderous campus shooters, says Banzhaf, who has persuaded his own university to take a few small steps to deal with this escalating problem.
Just last week an Arizona professor was shot to death by a former student who had worked in his department and made threats against those in the building.
Yet, despite this ample warning, reports that he had harassed several students on campus, and an earlier case of domestic violence - all of which led to him being barred from the campus - it appears that the simple step of installing a $5 peephole in the professor's office door was never taken.
If a peephole had been installed, Professor Thomas Meixner probably would have recognized the shooter from his picture which had been circulated to staff at UA -and/or seen the gun - and not opened the office door; thereby saving his life.
A report in the Washington Post says that "students fled classrooms and tried to barricade themselves into rooms when the university sent alerts."
This suggests that UA also did not take the simple and inexpensive precaution - recommended by dozens of campus safety organizations, and costing less than $10 per door - of insuring that every classroom can be locked in the event that an active shooter comes to campus.
Banzhaf persuaded his own university to not only install locks on every classroom doors, but to insure that each could be locked from the inside; since few professors would be willing to venture into a hall, once an active shooter alert is sent out, to lock his classroom from the outside - the way it used to work at Banzhaf's law school.
Banzhaf also had his university install a peephole in his own office door, and in that of a colleague, even though there had been no specific threats. Even professors who choose to leave their office doors unlocked, or even open, during the school day might be wise to keep them locked when working late or on weekends, he explains.
The professor is hardly an alarmist. In reporting on a recent Oakland school shooting which left six seriously injured, the New York Times noted that "the shooting was among more than 130 that have occurred this year at schools across the nation, including more than 30 that have resulted in injuries or deaths."
There have been nearly 1,000 incidents of gunfire at schools and colleges since the December 2012 massacre, and more than 311,000 students have experienced gun violence at schools since Columbine.
So it's long past time for universities to spend a very tiny amount from their huge tuition revenues or multi-million dollar endowments to take a few simple and inexpensive measures to prevent - or at least reduce - the deaths, injuries, and huge legal liability judgments sure to occur as the number of school shootings continues to escalate.
If parents see a serious enough risk to spend hundreds of dollars on bulletproof backpacks for their children, it's not asking too much for universities to take much less expensive but much more effective steps such as having classroom locks, installing peepholes, and other measures likely to prevent or at least slash unnecessary deaths and serious injuries.