Should Metal Detectors Be Mandatory In Schools

Why Are Metal Detectors So Important In Schools & Should Be Mandatory!

Should Metal Detectors Be Mandatory In Schools?

Years ago, metal detectors were not considered essential for school security, but with recent school shootings across the world, more people are arguing for these detectors to become mandatory at some school districts. 

Metal detectors are an important measure to keep students safe, these allow you to prevent gun violence or other weapons being brought into schoolhouse grounds, stopping a tragic event from occurring. However many people find using these devices in public schools controversial. 

We have dug into some more detail about the use of metal detectors for school safety below, along with the arguments for and against metal detectors in school, the best types of metal detectors to use in schools on the market and how they work, as well as discussing stricter gun control, mental health issues and preventive measures.

So without further chat, let’s get into it. 

Are School Metal Detectors Necessary For Control? 

Unfortunately, school mass shootings are becoming a more common occurrence nowadays, and concern over staff safety and student safety is at an all-time high. Having metal detectors along with video surveillance has proven an effective solution to keep schools safe and reduce incidents of school gun violence. 

For example, statistics in America show during 2018, 23 schools shootings only happened where a metal detector program was not installed. 

Even though these detectors at school can eliminate threats, many people still don’t think they are essential for public safety and question if they are suitable for school students.

Why Are Metal Detectors In Schools Controversial? 

A fair amount of school administrators and parents are against having a metal detector program in their schools. 

Even though these devices could prevent dangerous weapons from being brought into the school grounds, people argue that it creates a prison sense of environment and can make students and innocent people feel as if they are not trusted. 

Many security personnel in schools also argue that these devices are very expensive to buy and implement, random sweeps of school students may make individuals feel as if they are being ‘targeted’.

What Type Of School Metal Detector Is The Best?

There are a couple of different types of metal detectors to use for school safety, the main two types to choose from are stationary metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors which would both be set at the school entrance. 

Stationary Metal Detectors 

Stationary metal detectors tend to offer the best protection and are highly accurate, they are also great for campus safety as they can handle multiple crowds of people during all school hours.

These metal detectors are additionally less intrusive to the person or staff they are scanning. 

Drawbacks of these metal detectors for public school use has to be their price, which can cost up to £5000 or more, this type of screening would also require a handheld search as it does not determine exactly where the metal is on the person. 


  • Very accurate. 
  • Can take a mass student body. 
  • Less intrusive. 


  • Quite expensive. 
  • Still requires a second search if alerted. 

Hand-Held Metal Detectors 

Hand-held metal detectors on either hand are much cheaper and give quality, cost-effective protection. They can come in under £500, and also pinpoint the potential threat on a students body, making them easier to use than walk-through detectors. 

However, the disadvantages of these handheld metal detectors are that you would need security staff to operate them 24/7, the security officer would additionally have to be more intrusive during weapon confiscations and it takes more time to hand scan multiple crowds of people during a school day. 


  • Cheaper security program. 
  • Easy to use by security staff. 
  • Can pinpoint the deadly weapon.


  • Intrusive to students. 
  • Not time efficient. 
  • Needs hands-on operation 24/7. 

Overall, unless a middle school or primary schools can afford it, they will most likely have to use a hand-held detector for the guarantee of school safety, but stationary metal detectors are the better option if the school government can afford it.

How Do Hand Metal Detectors Work?

If a public school decides to implement these detectors, they will most likely choose a quality, cost-effective protection which are hand-held devices rather than walk-through ones. 

Hand-held detectors operate by using a transmitter coil which creates an electromagnetic field to find metal and a receiver coil that generates another electromagnetic field so as it can alert you to a potential weapon. 

These detectors are often an affordable way of ensuring there are security systems in place, whether at a movie theater or in school buses, but must be operated by security personnel. 

What Are The Issues With Hand Metal Detectors At a School Level?

As it might prove impossible to scan every single person, school officials or school resource offices that enter the building, it’s likely that the school administration would have to do random sweeps for better campus safety. 

Unfortunately, a random metal detector system can raise questions of bias by the police officers or staff who are operating it, this would likely increase trust issues with the students too and override the sense of security.

The Pros & Cons Of School Metal Detectors

So as you can understand why most places of education still don’t use detectors despite their importance in reducing gun violence, we have compared the pros and cons of using them in schools. 

Pros Of Using Detectors In School Districts

There are many advantages to using detectors for better campus safety, from finding weapons in school and stopping them from entering the school buildings, as well as helping the school safety and innocent people feel safer. 

We have put together a list of why detectors should be mandatory and enforced by government officials below. 

They Reduce The Risk Of Violence In Schools

Firstly, schools with metal detectors will be much less vulnerable to fatal school shootings than schools without, and by scanning all grades such as 12th grade, 11th grade, 10th grade, 9th grade and 8th grade you can ensure that you control the use of any weapons. 

It also helps to find not only guns but other weapons that can cause incidents of school like knives and bombs. 

It’s a Visual Warning To Keep Students Safe

Most of these detectors will be operated by law enforcement of the school such as security school personnel, this can discourage students, staff or any guys with guns to attempt an attack on the school as they know they will be caught. 

Any weapons confiscations will show students that the matter of security is being taken seriously.

Makes The School Safety Environment More Professional

Whether you put metal detectors in a middle school or high school, the presence of these devices will give a better sense of school safety, the national school safety and security services would approve the school’s facilities too. 

It additionally makes the learning environment feel more secured for the students as it promotes a feeling of control and eliminates the fear of an attack when knowing every person who entered the building has been scanned.

Cons Of Metal Detectors In School

Even though there are a fair few pros to using a detector for school safety, there are also some cons to consider which prevent a lot of schools and government facilities from using them. 

For example, they are very costly to install and most would not be provided/funded by government officials, they also can scare the lowest grade young students.

We have put together a list below of why some schools might not put a metal detection program in place for student and staff safety. 

They Create a Crowd With Potential For Mass Shooting

Unfortunately, the security system which might be preventing mass violence could also be creating an opportunity for one. When lines of students are waiting to go through a metal detector, there is nothing done to stop someone from having a weapon or gun before they pass this security checkpoint and use it.

Psychological Effects For Lower Grades

A feeling of untrust from older students may develop upon entering the school, especially from 12th grade and 11th grade, lowest grade students who are young may also find the whole scanning process scary, this will take the positive attitude away when they come into school, and is one of the main reasons metal detectors are so controversial, especially in primary schools. 

Students may also find being searched unethical and intrusive when people search them and their bags for potential threats.

Difficult To Install For Total Campus Safety

Even though detectors are a great way to ensure school safety, they are not always effective. For example, many schools have multiple entries and exit points, this means you would either have to hire lots of different school personnel to operate the hand-held security wands at each point or install expensive stationary detectors which are very costly and will still need supervision. 

Also, although metal detector screening can help with stricter gun control, this does not prevent fatal school shootings from occurring around the premises.

High Cost & Time-Consuming Per Person

These detectors will often have to be funded by the school boards, not the government, this means thousands of dollars would have to be put towards these stationary detectors which are often not attainable for a lot of schools. 

Hand-held detectors may cheaper but are also time-consuming and would require the guarantee of school students cooperation to be screened, searching for every individual can take a lot of time too, meaning students could potentially become late to school activities and classes. 

Detectors will require routine maintenance to ensure their accuracy which is another ongoing cost for school safety programs to consider, as well as finding staff to supervise them or perform checks/threat assessment.

Not Always Are Metal Detectors Effective

Believe it or not, even with extra control over metal weapons being brought in to the school, these devices do not pick up every kind of weapon, for example, people can use non-metal devices to cause violence as well, so these detectors can potentially create a false sense of security which might make innocent people less alert. 

Conclusion – Are Metal Detectors Effective In Schools?

To control and eliminate fatal school shootings metal detector screening is a good step to take to reduce the likelihood of these events happening. 

The effectiveness of these devices only have advantages, however, they are unrealistic for many schools without them being funded by the government. 

Urban districts are only likely to have these measures in place and it can create a feeling of panic if implemented in primary schools and around younger people of the lowest grades. 

So overall, yes, these detectors will help protect students and staff from gun violence, however, they do come with some important disadvantages which makes them impractical for some schools

Why Don’t All Schools & Public Places Install Metal Detectors To Stop Gun Violence?

From movie theatres to universities, you might be wondering why security metal detectors are not mandatory everywhere?

Well, this is because they are considered unethical and not important by most people, although gun violence is on the rise in terms of crime, many institutions and places like movie theatres do not want to create a sense of panic around their environment. 

Many people look to the government to have better law enforcement and stricter gun control when it comes to the use of guns, however, gun control laws still allow the sale of guns to be unregulated properly in some states. 

As we mentioned above too, many places will not have the budget to install detectors on their premises, mostly only government facilities will be able to afford them.

School Metal Detector Implementation Considerations

Implementing detectors into a school is by no means easy, and a lot of factors will need to be considered for them to work and be used effectively.

Random Metal Detector Sweeps 

One way to save time is by implementing random detector sweeps to control weapons brought into the school, this can be conducted on school buses or during evening events at the school out of the usual hours to keep the school protected. 

However, random sweeps can be subject to bias, this is an ethical issue that would have to be avoided. 


A school budget for these safety devices will have to be carved out, along with maintenance to make sure the detector is running properly and security staff that will control them, so an institution will have to ensure they not only have enough funds to buy the detector but also to run it.

Type Of School 

Primary schools will often have detectors implemented due to the ethical concerns surrounding them and children, as many students of this age will still not understand the concept of gun violence. 

These detectors will most be used for 12th grade, 11th grade or 9th grade who are statistically more likely to be involved in violence. 


There are a couple of issues that can arise from parents when schools put detectors in place, for example, many parents may object to their children being screened as it is an invasion of privacy, some may not like the prison-like environment it creates at school too. 

Or, some can assume that the school is 100% safe now it has detectors and fail to consider that violence can also occur in other ways, not just through carrying weapons.

Alternatives To Metal Detectors For Making Schools Safer

As we know not every school can afford a metal detector and with the government not enforcing stricter gun control, schools may be looking for alternatives to make their place of education safer. 

We have listed some alternatives schools can use to keep them safe below. 

Better Metal Health Screenings

When children are admitted to schools, they should be checked for past traumas and mental health issues first, then provided appropriate support when needed, often students who are struggling without any support are the ones who will turn to violence. 

On-site therapy as counselling should be offered and be available at all schools.

Gun Drills

Just like fire drills, gun drills can be implemented to help students know what to do in case of a shooting, this can help save lives and remove innocent people from the situation until it is resolved. 

Many people, unfortunately, die in these situations due to panic.

Parental & Teacher Interaction

Parents and teachers should be trained to observe and offer support if they notice changes in their students/son/daughters behaviour, even small changes such as their grades going down can be indicators that something is wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions About Metal Detectors & Schools 

Should 8th-grade students be screened with a detector? 

Yes, by 8th grade a student will be 13 to 14 on average, it is not unethical to screen a student of this age as they will have full understanding that it is a safety measure to protect them and the school.

Primary schools however may be unsuitable to screen.

Why do American people not have stricter gun control?

Gun control laws in America are very controversial and have been debated among government officials for a long time, many people are pro-guns as they find it gives protection for homes and keeps American people safe. 

There has always been an argument against gun control laws as government officials feel guns don’t kill people, but people kill people, and their second amendment will be compromised if they are stopped from buying guns as protection for homes.

Will metal health screening help with gun control? 

People are trying to ensure that buyers of guns are mental health screened before they are allowed to purchase a firearm, this is because it is argued that you can tell from someone’s mental health if they are likely to commit a gun crime or not.

For students, mental health help at school may also help with this.

How many shootings have there been at US high schools? 

There has been a growing trend of school shootings at US high schools since 2013, with nearly 112 in 2020, some mass shootings to name are the Saugus High School 2019 shooting which killed two people and injured five, along with Douglas High School Shooting in 2018 which injured 17 people and killed another 17 others.

Final Words 

Overall, metal detectors are an important way to identify guns and other weapons that can be brought into school and keep students safe to prevent mass shootings.

We suggest that they should be especially mandatory in districts where gun violence is likely to happen, as well as other preventative/safety measures such as gun drills and counselling should be offered to students. 

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