For many people, it’s impossible to remember a time when mass shootings like the ones at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook Elementary School were implausible. Born in 1992, I’m certainly one of those people.
But in 1966, these types of events were unheard of, which made the August 1, 1966, University of Texas at Austin clock tower shooting all the more devastating. “Tower,” a documentary film about the incident, which is considered America’s first mass school shooting, will air on PBS tonight at 10 p.m. EST. I wrote an article about the film for the current issue of NFPA Journal.
The UT shooting catalyzed the creation of SWAT teams across the country. Later mass shootings prompted further changes to law enforcement response to active shooter incidents and sparked a discussion among life safety experts on the role of codes and standards in addressing such events. The NFPA Standards Council has received a request to develop a standard on preparedness and response to active shooter scenarios.