Active Shooter Simulation Drills: Harmful or Helpful?

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Our State Policy Manager, Sean Walker, leads our state-level efforts to ensure students are not required to participate in active shooter simulations as part of their school safety exercises. Here he shares an update about a concerning new policy trend. Safety drills and active shooter simulations are being treated as one and the same. And that’s putting children at risk.

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many concerned people set out to prevent that same horror from happening again. Some have tried increasing physical security with metal detectors and barriers. Some have taken a holistic, preventive approach. For example, many now use our programs to prevent gun violence and other harmful acts in schools. Others have used active shooter drills, causing concern among students and parents. In fact, according to experts, their effectiveness remains unclear.

Active Shooter Simulations Are Not Like Fire Drills

Now, a dangerous trend is making active shooter drills more traumatizing than helpful. And this trend could make its way into State Houses across our nation.

Without a doubt, many of us might think active shooter drills are like fire drills. They should help educate and train students on how to take a crisis seriously. Certainly without putting them in harm’s way.

Instead, many of these drills have become live-action simulations of fatal shootings. Rather than empowering students, these simulations can include shooting pellet guns at teachers and spreading fake blood to mimic the scene of a shooting. Sometimes, students aren’t even aware the exercise is just a drill. Moreover, these tactics hurt students and do not help prevent school shootings.

Texas students already face lockdown, lock-out, shelter-in-place, and other drills. A new law could result in active shooter simulations being added to the list. These drills include live simulations that mimic or appear to be an actual shooting.

Lockdown Drills Are Scary Enough

Active shooter simulations are worse. Many students express anxiety and worry about regular lockdown drills. Students are taught to hide under their desks and barricade their doors. They learn to block windows to avoid being seen by a potential shooter.

Now, imagine there was someone running through the halls pretending to be a shooter, carrying a fake weapon, and shooting at students and teachers in the hallways.

How can we expect students to walk away unscathed?

More Than a Lockdown

Texas just passed S.B.168, a new law that will influence how active shooter drills are conducted. This law allows fear-inducing simulations to be part of schools’ active threat exercises without ensuring students have a clear way to opt-out. See our FAQ on this new law.

Ironically, what the new law is careful to make clear, is that parents and guardians can have guns in their cars during school pickup.

Help Stop Active Shooter Simulations

We may not be able to change this law over the summer. But you still have a chance to ensure students can opt-out of active shooter simulations.

The new law includes many new and undefined concepts which could lead to policies and practices that harm Texas students. And where Texas goes, other states may soon follow. That’s why it’s important that you urge Texas agencies to be extremely clear. Tell them active shooter simulations cannot be mandatory for students.

Sign the petition now to stop active shooter simulations from traumatizing students!