Changing building codes to protect against mass shootings at odds with other safety measures

Fire and other emergencies require getting people out quickly, not locking down sections.

December 21, 2015 |
Changing building codes to protect against mass shootings at odds with other safety measures

Photo: Andreas H/Creative Commons.

The recent mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., prompted an article in the Colorado Springs Independent asking if building codes could reduce the carnage in such incidents.

Building codes have focused on fire safety with interior corridor doors being easy for anyone to open. This strategy is at odds with what law enforcement would like to do—close down portions of buildings by blocking corridors in order to isolate a shooter or potential victims.

Locking down parts of a building could do more harm than good in certain circumstances. If corridors are locked to prevent a shooter from gaining access to one section of the building, it might prevent people from escaping.

Electronic locking devices might be viable options for some buildings. Codes allow for these in sensitive areas such as in hospitals' newborn nurseries, which often are located behind locked doors to guard against kidnappers.

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