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Pen News - Defend Our Children Interview

SICKENED by school shootings, a retired US policeman has engineered a new way to stop gunmen killing children in class – bulletproof desks. Todd Drummond, 67, designed the safe space desk so that schoolkids could shelter underneath and be enclosed by bulletproof material, sliding a door shut behind them. It’s built to withstand a bullet from a .44 Magnum, and is meant to buy children extra time during a school shooting until armed officers can respond. Mr Drummond, who designed the desk with his son, Donald, 29, said it was not a substitute for political change, but would save lives while a long-term solution was found. “We know that we need legislation to get involved to help stop these school attacks and until that time happens we need to do something as adults,” he said. “That’s what this is about.” He continued: “We’re not contending that this desk is it – that it will solve all the problems. “What we’re contending is that there is a period of time when a shooter first enters the room when a child will recognise that they’re in trouble, there’s a danger. “Instinctively they will duck. To have a place to duck and then conceal leaves the shooter discombobulated – they’re in the room, they don’t have a target and the clock is ticking. “And when the clock is ticking, that’s because there are armed security guards – a trained officer is on the way. “Then they realise that no longer am I the hunter, now I’m the hunted.” Mr Drummond, from Hancock County, Mississippi, felt compelled to design the desk after 17 people were killed in a 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “It just seemed to be a turning point for me,” he said. “I listened to the parents – they cried for somebody to do something, and I listened to the children actually say ‘we want to have a way to defend ourselves’. “We can’t teach children to go and engage the attacker, we don’t want to equip them with a sidearm or something of that nature, we don’t want them engaging. “So how do you protect the children when an attacker first enters the room?” The desk he created weighs 130lbs and for an shooter to upend it, Todd believes they would have to lift not only this, but the weight of the child inside too. It can also be built with a bulletproof floor, he said. The door, meanwhile, is designed with a mechanism that gives the person behind it disproportionate power to hold it shut. Mr Drummond is now promoting the desks through Defend Our Children, a non-profit organisation he has created, and has started a GoFundMe to pay for a case study that will test his design. Ultimately, he hopes to see entire schools kitted out with his desks, and with enough money, wants to provide them freely to those schools that can least afford them. And while the first models have cost $1,800 (£1,300) each to build, Mr Drummond expects that this number can be slashed when fixed costs are spread across more desks. He said: “When we build them one or two at a time, they come out to about $1,800 a piece. “Volume wise – our vendors, when I tell them I want them to turn this equipment on and start making runs for two desks, they tell me you’ve got all the setup costs, you’ve got to eat all of that. “And the steel fabricators, all their programmable equipment has to be set up, then they do all the bending, all the powder-coating, for two or three pieces and it’s eating us alive.” But Mr Drummond, who spent 20 years working in law enforcement before retirement, believes the cost will be worth it if it saves lives. He said: “How many kids have been killed? “How many of them were doctors? How many of them would have been physicists? What did we lose so far? We don’t even know.” An estimated 114 people were killed in school shootings in the US from 2009 to 2018, with 242 injured, according to CNN. To donate to the Defend Our Children campaign, visit:


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