Over the last several years there’s been a 30 to 40 percent surge in consumer demand for bulletproof vehicles and ballistic glass conversions in the Middle East. In a recent Reuters interview Jon Hawkes (a senior analyst at IHS Jane’s, publisher of Jane’s Defence Weekly) noted that not all of these vehicles are necessarily as bulletproof as President Obama’s limo: “Sometimes it can be seen as a lifestyle item. These buyers are much less concerned about exactly how bullet proof a vehicle might be.”
BALLISTIC GLASS DETERRENCE
On the one hand, this is fairly rational. As Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards has said time and again, the most important value that a bullet proof system brings to many retail customers is deterrence: Potential robbers see all of that ballistic glass and decide to choose an easier target. In many older urban cores, Jim has seen gas stations and convenience stores “protected” with nothing more than half-inch plexiglass from the hardware store. This is not “ballistic glass” by any stretch of the imagination, but it can still be a sufficient deterrent to armed bandits who want to get in and out with little hassle and lots of loot.
For those living in or visiting regions where armed, seemingly random ransom-motivated kidnappings are a daily threat, deterrence might be sufficient: Add some ballistic glass to your ride and compound, brag about it whenever you can, and rest assured that you are no longer the low-hanging fruit.
BALLISTIC GLASS SECURITY
But Jim is quick to point out that conditions are different in the United States: “It’s rare that there’s an armed robbery of an occupied residence that’s purely motivated by profit. For deterrence, people have security systems and armed guards.” In other words, when folks in Florida or California is adding ballistic glass to a car or home, it’s because they need protection from a specific, motivated threat against their person or family, not to deter smash-and-grab heists. In such cases, it’s in the best interest of the target to keep as quiet as possible about their ballistic security, so that potential attackers are caught unawares. “It all goes back to how far people need to go to feel safe.”
Presidential security is a perfect example of this. As is clear in the above video, the president’s “Beast” of an armored limousine looks like any other Metro Car–until you glance the cross-section of the door, which is super-thick to accommodate and support panes of ballistic glass. Likewise, until Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez took several 700-yard shots at the president’s windows with a high-powered rifle, few Americans were aware that all of the White House’s exterior windows had been quietly reinforced with Level 4 or better ballistic glass.