When we see a headline like Houston Police Search for Men Who Shot Clerk Through Bulletproof Glass, we’re apt to wonder, “How does that happen? Were those bandits packing assault rifles?”
BIG GUNS, OR BAD BULLET PROOF GLASS?
Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards doesn’t assume Houston thugs are running around with high-powered hand cannons; he assumes the clerk had the bad luck to be stuck standing behind fake bullet proof glass. “It’s less prevalent now than it’s ever been,” Jim explains, “. . . but still, we go to older banks or stores, and the proprietor tells us ‘This is bullet resistant,’ and it’s a really awkward conversation.”
What Jim has found is that local contractors and glass houses who do occasional bullet proof installs often overestimate how well they understand the materials–or, in rare cases, realize that there is a lucrative opportunity to make sky-high promises while substituting low-quality components.
It doesn’t help that store owners and facility managers rarely have any experience with ballistic security and materials. An uninformed buyer is totally at the mercy of the market, and the market always wants to sell the cheapest materials at the highest price: “Say somebody puts in Level 1 or 2 material [rated to stop common handgun rounds] instead of Level 3 [which may be rated for 12-gauge shotgun slugs]. Once it’s installed, if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be hard to notice. . . They’ve never seen the product before, how do they know what Level 2 looks like compared to Level 3?”
MAKING SURE YOU HAVE LEGITIMATE BULLET RESISTANT GLASS
Even if the contractor is entirely honest, and able to source bullet proof glass, and knowledgeable enough to properly handle and install those materials, that still doesn’t mean he’s qualified to design an integrated bullet proof security system. Most of us can put the right oil in our engine or swap out a set of spark plugs; that doesn’t make us qualified to design and build a car.
As a rule, property owners should not hire a local contractor to design a bullet proof system–even something seemingly straightforward like a transaction window. There are only a few companies designing bullet proof glass systems on a national scale, and it’s highly unlikely that your local glass house or contractor just happens to also be an experienced bulletproof system designer.
Total Security Solutions has a variety of free tip sheets available on their site to help businesses assess their security needs and start the design process. A local contractor or glazier is an excellent partner for the actual installation of the high-performance ballistic system that a proven bullet proofing specialist will design, fabricate, and ship.