Doug Bedell — January 20, 2021, 2:19 pm

Background on Metal Detectors, an Early Security Tool


Metal detectors are relied on at airports and for “catching people attempting to carry guns, knives and other metal-based weapons into schools, courthouses, sporting venues and other indoor and outdoor locations,” the Security 101 blog advises.

But hardly anyone knows that Alexnder Graham Bell, of telephone fame, developed “the first working metal detector in 1881 to look for a bullet fired by a gunman into the body of President James Garfield. The bullet was not found in time and Garfield died. But the concept was good and metal detectors became increasingly sensitive and reliable…

“Metal detectors can cause delays as people empty their pockets of keys, coins, etc. That’s why some buildings’ administrators use random metal detector searches. By keeping students, employees or other visitors off balance, they are less likely to attempt to carry a weapon into a facility. A recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics showed just over 10% of public high schools conduct random metal detector checks.”

Thus, metal detectors are important security tools with an interesting history.

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