Justin Kelley

During the first three months of this year, Transportation Security Administration agents intercepted 1,508 firearms in carry-on luggage at airport security checkpoints throughout the country. This is a 10.3% rise over the same time frame in 2022. Of the firearms intercepted, more than 93% were loaded. During the same first quarter of the year, Gun Violence Archive reports 131 active shooter incidents, resulting in the deaths of 195 people. Incidents occurred across 29 states. These statistics further underscore the continued rise in gun violence that can occur without warning, at any time and any place.


Regardless of the organization, security professionals must close the opportunity gap by increasing vigilance in a layered security approach. Keeping people safe against this threat is priority one. The most effective plans for deterrence, detection, and delay include a blend of technology, human, and canine elements. How do properly trained firearms detection canines deliver improved depth and effectiveness across a wide variety of environments?


Specificity Training for Firearm Detection

MSA Security® canines are trained at one of the company’s regional training sites for explosive detection. This includes learning to detect all five families of commercial and military-grade explosives, including gunpowder and homemade explosives. Dogs intended for firearm detection deployment complete additional training focused on detecting low-explosive powders, as well as cleaning solvents and other gun-related odors. MSA gun dogs will alert to indicate the presence of a firearm, whether previously fired or static, with a “sit” response.


Educational Campuses

This passive indicator, unlike bite or bark work, is one of the many reasons that MSA Firearms Detection Canine Teams offer an effective solution to the active shooter threat in school environments. With canine sporting breeds like Labrador Retrievers, teams foster a comfortable environment for students and personnel, while simultaneously providing a proven solution to protecting our most vulnerable population.


Healthcare Campuses

While many of our nation’s hospital campuses are considering the installation of technology, firearms detection canines can offer an effective solution with greater advantages due to speed, mobility, and flexibility. MSA Canine Handler Mike and firearms detection k9 Drago are among more than 900 MSA Canine Detection Teams deployed globally and a company forerunner in addressing the unique security needs of healthcare campuses. They regularly patrol various areas of the hospital. Their consistent presence has proven unobtrusive to patient care, visitor traffic, or clinical operations. Read more about this MSA Firearms Detection Team and their work at a west coast hospital.


Retail Stores and Malls

The National Retail Federation reports that nearly 60% of retail security executives are concerned with the rise in mass violence and active assailants over the last five years. Retail centers and malls throughout the country seek solutions to mitigate active shooter risk. Specific canine breeds, such as German Shepherds, serve as a physical deterrence to bad actors. They effectively sweep large, crowded areas for anyone carrying a weapon and can also combat in-store crime or smash-and-grab activity. As one example, MSA Firearms Detection Team Nate and Bane have identified over 2,000 firearms since their deployment began at a mid-west mall in November 2020.


Commercial and Financial Buildings

Commercial and financial buildings are often soft targets requiring a bolstered security posture. The flexibility of canines is a tremendous asset for busy office environments. They quickly adjust to changing traffic flow, peak visitor hours, and varied operational needs. A Firearms Detection Team can perform lobby screening during the morning rush and move to the mailroom to screen during delivery hours.


These are just four of the many environments where canines provide an innovative and proven solution to combating the threat of active shooters. For more information, fact sheets and important resources, visit Firearms Detection Canines and to schedule a one-on-one consultation with an MSA subject matter expert to discuss your organization’s unique needs, email info@msasecurity.net.

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