Metal defectors: Ridge students and parents leery pol’s proposed ‘body scanners’ could stop mass shootings

Youth in revolt: Students demand common-sense gun reform at walkouts across boro
Photo by Zoe Freilich

They think this legislation misses the mark.

Students and parents at a Bay Ridge high school questioned the ability of metal detectors to stop an armed shooter after the neighborhood’s state Senator called for “body scanners” in schools. A pupil at Fort Hamilton High School said the scanners using metal-detector technology proposed by state Sen. Marty Golden might calm nervous classmates, but wouldn’t do much to save lives in the face of an aspiring villain toting 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, with thousands of kids across the borough, 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. That legislation followed another Golden-sponsored bill, introduced on March 5, that would allow the city to use the streamlined design-build process on its repairs to a crumbling stretch of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway on the condition that armed cops are stationed in every school across the five boroughs.

Another Fort Hamilton student suggested the scanners’ main purpose may be to quell kids’ fears, arguing that, regardless of the technology, the devices would be unlikely to stop a determined mass shooter because someone intent on opening fire would likely find another way in than the school’s front door.

“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,” said Ridgite Abdurrehman Mughal, a member of Fort Hamilton’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.”

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 Fort Hamilton’s 4,539 students, especially since some arrive 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.”

Many students including Ioannou 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, who claimed he once was uncomfortably searched after his cell phone set off the detector, also cautioned that pat-downs would also have to be managed to protect students’ rights.

And his mother welcomed the idea of additional “preventative measures” including metal detectors in schools, but agreed that they probably wouldn’t stop a mass shooter — although they could stop a student trying to hide a weapon, she said.

“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,” said Kathy Ioannou.

Another parent who has a daughter at Fort Hamilton said she would feel more comfortable with the detectors, but echoed doubts that 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 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.