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Metal defectors: Fort Hamilton students and parents leery metal detectors could stop mass shootings

Security theater: Students at Fort Hamilton High School doubt that the metal detectors that state Sen. Marty Golden wants to put in all schools would actually do much to prevent a mass shooting.
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Students and parents at Fort Hamilton High School questioned the ability of metal detectors to stop an armed shooter after State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) called for “body scanners” in schools. A student at the school said scanners using metal-detector technology might calm nervous students, but wouldn’t do much to save lives in the face of an aspiring mass shooter armed with an assault rifle.

“I feel like they make students feel safer, but they wouldn’t really stop a mass shooting, because someone will find a way to do that if they want to,” said Ridgite Mustafa Hammad. “[Metal detectors] give the illusion of safety.”

Hammad was among the many Fort Hamilton students who joined thousands of kids across the borough who cut class to rally for stricter gun laws on March 14.

Golden introduced a bill in the state Senate on March 6 calling for “smart scanners” in all schools, but it was days before he clarified — via Twitter — that the technology he envisioned deploying was pulse induction and magnetometers — the same technology used in metal detectors.

Another Fort Hamilton student said that, regardless of the technology, he was unsure that the scanners could stop a determined mass shooter, since a shooter would likely find another way in than the school’s front door, and suggested that the main function would be to quell kids’ fears instead.

“I personally feel that they can’t stop something like bringing a weapon into the school,” said Ridgite Abdurrehman Mughal, a member of the school’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program, which gives students military training. “If people have the unfortunate intention of doing something bad, they try to find a way. That’s something you can try to minimize, but not really stop. It might make kids feel safer, but unless they have metal detectors at every door, I don’t think it would 100-percent ensure safety.”

Another student said he supported the idea of putting the metal detectors in schools on a permanent basis, but that he was concerned about the logistics of efficiently scanning the school’s 4,539 students, especially since some students show up as early as 7 am.

“I think it would definitely benefit the school, because anything that’s harmful, they’ll obviously detect it,” said Dyker Heights resident Bobby Ioannou. “But I think it would be a huge hassle, to have to wake up earlier. I think there are still some underlying negative effects to it.”

Ioannou and other students said the school already has random monthly checks with metal detectors and police officers present, which the Department of Education did not confirm by press time.

Ioannou said he once had to be uncomfortably patted down after his cell phone set off the detector, and that pat-downs would also have to be managed to protect students’ rights.

Ioannou’s mother Kathy also said that she would welcome any “preventative measures” — including metal detectors — in schools, but agreed that they probably wouldn’t actually stop a mass shooter, though they could stop a student trying to hide a weapon.

“I don’t think a metal detector will stop a shooter, but it may very well deter some type of a weapon coming into a school,” she said.

Another parent who has a daughter at the school said she would feel more comfortable with the detectors, but agreed that it was unlikely they could stymie a shooting.

“Will it prevent a mass shooting? I really don’t think so, because this world has gone insane,” said the parent, who declined to be named because of her job with the the Department of the Education.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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