Security Glazing in Schools Focus of New Tennessee Law

Tennessee school buildings constructed or remodeled after July 1, 2023, must have bullet-resistant or entry-resistant film on exterior glass panels, according to a Tennessee bill signed recently by governor Bill Lee.

The passage of House Bill 322 follows the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, which killed three children and three adults on March 27, 2023. Photo courtesy of Brandon Hooper.

The passage of House Bill 322 follows the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, which killed three children and three adults on March 27, 2023. The bill was in the works prior to the shooting, with several additions included following the attack.

The House and Senate approved the bill in April. It allots $230 million for school safety, including $54 million toward security upgrades for public and private schools, $30 million to place school resource officers in every public school, $140 million to place Homeland Security agents in each county to coordinate school security responses and $8 million to provide new school-based behavioral help staff.

Fortifying Schools

Among other regulations, the bill states that new school buildings must “install a clear, bullet-resistant or entry-resistant film on the glass panel of each exterior entry or basement level window and door to prevent individuals from entering the school building without authorization by breaking the glass.”

Wayne Gregory of Eversafe Security Solutions told WFMY News 2 following the shooting at the Covenant School that he estimates only 2% of schools nationwide have bullet-resistant material in place. The primary reason is cost, he says.

The increased spate of school shootings has forced various states and educational organizations to conduct threat assessments of their buildings, says Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association. This includes the Texas Education Agency, which proposed school safety standards, including security film installations. Additionally, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a safety bill recently that includes requirements for bullet-resistant doors and glazing in schools.

“Hardening security at our public and private schools is no longer just a priority; it’s an imperative,” stated Lt. Gov. Randy McNally following the bill’s passage. “The safety of our schools is of paramount importance.”

School Shootings Increase

The Washington Post has compiled a school shootings database dating back to 1999. According to its data, there have been 377 school shootings since 1999. In 2022, there were 46 school shootings. The database shows that at least 199 children, educators and others have been killed overall, while another 425 have been injured.

The frequency of school shootings has increased since 2018. In 2017, the U.S. averaged 11 school shootings yearly, never exceeding 16. However, after students returned to onsite classrooms following the pandemic, school shootings per year have more than doubled.

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