An Argument Against School Active Shooter Drills

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TTAG Commentator Michael John Price wonders if Active Shooter Drills for schools are a good idea:

“Let’s back of the envelope this thing. About 64 million enrolled students, say 5 minutes per drill (conservatively), that’s 320 million person-minutes or 608 m person-years per month. Last I heard school shootings killed about 2 people a month on average and each school age child has about 65-75 years of life left or 1/4 the amount of time spent on drills. So on average these drills if they were totally effective at preventing school shooting deaths would still result in a net decrease in the time each child spends not doing these boring drills. Other types of attacks would decrease the amount by which the drills exceed increased survival time, but not by much when you consider there hasn’t been a successful school bombing in the USA in decades.”

comments

  1. avatar Casey1911 says:

    Active shooter drills will always be a waste of time unless part of the contingency is that an adult (the teacher) in each room is armed. Anything else is a waste of time even if it worked out with the mathematical analysis that you laid out, because no lives would be saved. In my high school, whatever we happened to be drilling for, we either stayed in the classroom with crappy 70 year old doors, or we gathered in the gym. Either way, if someone was intent on hurting us, they would be successful.

  2. avatar Rokurota says:

    No comment on the drill itself, but I pissed myself laughing at the cub reporter broadcasting “on the move.”

  3. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

    Wouldn’t the “Israeli method” be more cost-efficient? And even if it isn’t, it’s worth it if it saves one child, right?

  4. avatar Sean says:

    What’s wrong with training for the inevitable?

    Only through simulation can you learn what you’re doing wrong. It’s extensive drills like this that you can go back and review what needs to be changed.

    Kudos to those LE agencies for working toward being prepared.

    Would you prefer they NOT do it and go into an actual situation going “by the book” with no actual experience?

    1. avatar Anonymouse says:

      But its NOT training for the inevitable:

      School shootings are very rare.

      School spree shootings (multiple victims) which this training is supposed to address are exceedingly, exceedingly rare.

      School spree shootings where this training would do ANY fraking good are practically nonexistant: by the time the cops show up, the event is over.

      It is really Really REALLY stupid risk-analysis to spend effort training on low-probability events when there are equally fatal high-probability events you should train for: Earthquakes (west cost), tornados (midwest), hurricanes (south), snowstorms (north), car accidents (everywhere) etc etc etc…

      And yes, I want the cops to do it “by the book with no experience”, if this means instead they have better first-aid training when they come upon a car crash!

  5. avatar davealot says:

    The inevitable? Has it gotten that bad at your school Sean?

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      So long as our schools remain victim disarmament zones, there will continue to be an elevated risk of another shooting.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    When I went to grade school, we had “duck and cover” drills just in case the Russians decided to drop the big one while we were eating our PB&Js. These “active shooter” drills are no more stupid than using a desk for a fallout shelter. Given the state of teaching in America, active shooter drills are probably a welcome relief for the kiddies. So have at it, school administrators. And use simunition for the sake of authenticity.

  7. avatar Ropingdown says:

    Curious notion. They’ll do drills but fail to provide on-site armed response? The calculation of person years is wrong. Each drill, if performed nationwide, would cost about 640 person years. Twice a year is surely enough. In my childhood we did nuclear attack drills. Same motivation: Encourage kids to want to vote for defense later in life. The school drills? Make kids hyper-fearful of guns by stirring fearful imaginings via the drills, and encourage a positive view on police spending. The drills would make more sense if accompanied by a few teachers trained to respond with firearms. If the kids have to wait for the Columbine-style slow-crawling SWAT team, is a drill going to help?

    1. avatar bob says:

      At my high scholl almost everyone hunts and shoots and doesnt give a crap about these drills

  8. avatar Chaz says:

    Training for LEOs seems a good thing. Using simunition instead of airsoft is problematic i.e. the chance for a live round accident. However buying enough airsoft equipment for this would be expensive, probably budget busting. Also IMHO there should have been more eye protection in use.

    Responding to an emergency is one thing. Better still would be allowing a school to have its own deterrent force in place. It would drive the grabber’s to apoplexy but a school full of teachers and staff with CCW permits and carrying might suffice. In Texas the Harrold Independent School District is giving that a try.

    1. avatar Jeff O. says:

      If I recall correctly to use simunitions you have to switch out the slide & barrel, or just barrel, of pistols and the bolt of AR pattern rifles.

      They won’t fire lethal ammo with the parts changed out.

  9. avatar JP says:

    Lets see, we have fire retardant materials and many fire proof materials, we have fire hoses and fire extinguishers and sometimes sprinkler systems and we have fire drills in the schools. We have fire departments participate. How many kids have been killed by school fires in the last 20 years or so? Don’t live in denial (not a river in Egypt). The next big hit from terrorist will be the grade schools. They will come for the babies.

  10. avatar ScottH says:

    Interesting drill. There’s a couple of things that strike me as curious right from the start. Students wandering/running in hallways, open steel doorways that aren’t locked closed from the inside, the lack of anyone on the intercom telling students to get inside a room then lock doors, barricade, and stay away from windows. And the lack of teachers herding students to make sure that happened.

    Given response times, the police are likely to arrive 15-20 minutes after such an event begins. The halls should’ve been empty except for the possible shooters and/or administrators. Yet we see them here. Possible, but really suggests to me that the district really hasn’t thought this one through.

    I always assumed the lessons we learned from Columbine were now universally implemented nationwide. But apparently not everywhere. Schools should have contingency plans in the case of unauthorized people on campus with firearms. Or in the case of a drive by in the neighborhood. Additionally how to deal with the sudden coordination of police arriving on the scene coupled with an avalanche of parents calling and arriving to pick up their kids. Intercoms, lockable steel doors, contingency plans, etc should be well thought out by your school district.

    As an educator in CA, we call these ‘blue drills’ and practice them every year. We run them much like fire drills with an added evacuation plan to move students off campus if such an event occurred.

    As a side note, I’m not overly excited about the idea of allowing teachers to carry concealed at the high school or elementary levels. Weighing the extremely rare possibility of any shooter coming on campus with the possibility of accidents is just too huge for me to consider. Besides, teachers should be hunkered down behind steel doors inside their classrooms with students, not armed moving toward an assailant. I am however ok with allowing administrators to carry concealed if for no other reason then because their office tends to be more secure, they don’t have kids directly under their responsibility, and because they are in a unique position to direct police and/or move throughout the school.

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      First of all, *steel.

      “Weighing the extremely rare possibility of any shooter coming on campus with the possibility of accidents is just too huge for me to consider.”
      —–
      I see. Why don’t we see more of these “accidents” reported, then. Seems to me that the media loves to report such things.

      “Besides, teachers should be hunkered down behind steal doors inside their classrooms with students, not armed moving toward an assailant.”
      —–
      In the event that such a thing were to happen, I would much prefer that my kid’s teacher is hunkered down AND armed. When threat avoidance fails, threat neutralization needs to be an option.

      1. avatar ScottH says:

        Give a guy some time to edit? Was editing as you posted.

        “I would much prefer that my kid’s teacher is hunkered down AND armed.”

        Your kid is safe behind a locked steel door. Not only would it take some dedication for any assailant to get through but its an opportunity cost. Its more likely an assailant would move toward an easier target. Nor do you have to worry that the disorganized/lazy teacher’s gun getting into the wrong hands. The teacher who gets lazy and keeps his gun in his unlocked desk, leaves his range bag near the file cabinet, or for whatever reason leaves his/her gun unsecured.

        My point is the general public would never go for it which is why I suggested an administrator.

        1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          So, the lazy and disorganized teacher can’t be trusted with a firearm, but can be trusted to lock the door? I believe you have a lower opinion of your fellow human beings than I do. Make firearms instruction mandatory for our educators. It would be a darn better use of one of those “in service” days. And as far as the “the general public would never go for it” argument, the same could have been said of “shall issue” ccw laws thirty years ago.

        2. avatar ScottH says:

          Let me put it to you this way. I’m a parent who is also an educator. I can’t begin to describe the level of dysfunction present in today’s society with students, parents, and other educators. I see it on a daily basis to such an extent that I’m unconvinced arming teachers is a good idea. As a parent, I’m not even sure I trust other ‘professionals’ to even teach my kids to the level I expect, yet I’m to trust they carry a firearm at all times and/or secure it properly inside their classroom?

          BTW – I have no issue on a college campus where everyone is an adult, but adding children and the possibility of gaining access to a firearm without supervision changes the paradigm for me. There’s just too much chance of accident for me to get on board with the idea.

          Sure, there maybe many teachers that are well trained, responsible and CCW holders. I do a fair amount of formal training myself, have a CCW, and teach others on a constant basis. Yet, I’m resistant to the idea. Now sell the idea to non gun owners or those ambivalent and it quickly becomes a non starter.

        3. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          “I can’t begin to describe the level of dysfunction present in today’s society with students, parents, and other educators.”
          —–
          As you are a resident of the People’s Republik of Kalifornia, I do not doubt that in the least.

          “As a parent, I’m not even sure I trust other ‘professionals’ to even teach my kids to the level I expect, yet I’m to trust they carry a firearm at all times and/or secure it properly inside their classroom?”
          —–
          Even given your state of residence, there are many, many people around you with carry permits. That doesn’t give you the willies, but your fellow educators being trained does? Fear is a useful motivator, but only when properly managed.

          “adding children and the possibility of gaining access to a firearm without supervision changes the paradigm for me.”
          —–
          Is there really that much difference between an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old? How about between a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old? See where this is going? I just think they all deserve the same level of protection.

          “Now sell the idea to non gun owners or those ambivalent and it quickly becomes a non starter.”
          —–
          I’m sorry, but I do not believe you have any right to call any idea a “non-starter”. Educate the populace on what you’re trying to accomplish (safer schools) and how you intend to accomplish it (mandatory firearms training), and you might be surprised by Joe Sixpack’s response.

        4. avatar ScottH says:

          “Even given your state of residence, there are many, many people around you with carry permits.”

          CCW permits in CA do not restrict one from campus carry unless specifically noted by the Sheriff upon issuance. I have a CCW in CA and could carry on campus if I wished. That’s CA law.

          BTW – I put on my holster once I hit the inside of my car, I just don’t carry on campus. 😉

    2. avatar JP says:

      How do you move the students away from the threat without putting them in a kill zone? A bomb in the parking lot near the busses, an area where cross fire is easy to do. Lone gun man or two maybe so. Coordinated attack. Start moving kids around = higher body count. Remember Breslin? Most schools can’t even keep the back doors locked because somebody is outside grabbin a smoke.

      1. avatar ScottH says:

        Obviously I can’t speak for every school district, but the evacuation occurs after the event of over, not during. We grab any student we see and pull them inside. The school is locked down until safety is ensured. The presumption is that its safer to ‘protect’ students in an enclosed classroom behind a closed, locked steel door over everyone running around everywhere.

        Now after an event when safety is a non issue, our contingency plan is relocate students away from buildings (bodies and possible crime scene) and onto the football field where attendance is taken and where said location is conducive to parents (who may suddenly want to ‘check’ their kids out and go home). We also plan for a second location should the 1st not be available as well as a second nearby school should we need to walk away.

        “A bomb in the parking lot near the busses, an area where cross fire is easy to do.”

        I mentioned the same thing when ‘the district plan’ was being formalized. The irony is that most of these school events over the last 100 years occur not within buildings, but once outside after said shooter has pulled the fire alarm. A football or track field without cover, shooters on rooftops, students and teachers as easy targets. Needless to say, i try not to get nervous whenever there is a fire drill or when a students pulls a fire alarm as a prank. At least to me, a CCW would be all but useless if out in the field with shooters on rooftops plinking teachers and students from 100 yards out and behind cover. But i know some would disagree.

        Any plan has flaws of course, but its always a balance between recognizing the rarity of such an event, what can be done cost effectively, and what’s politically acceptable. School shootings are extremely rare. Having a police officer in every school everyday would be prohibitively expensive. And arming teachers? Risk would need to be a million times higher to sway the public enough to see the idea as a positive solution.

        Note. In my rural area where the shooting sports are common, even forming a high school rifle team is met with a lot of resistance. Its a non starter for the PTA, the District and even my USMC retired Principal. And that’s a rifle team where the rifles and ammunition would be stored off campus at the local range. That’s the climate in education. So at least in my opinion, arming teachers in most areas is not going to happen.

  11. avatar ST says:

    Preparedness is never a bad thing.

    That said, I seriously doubt any drill will be put into practice real life. Not because of the low odds of an attack, as a gun free zone is the perfect place to have a rampage, but because by the time someone gets on the phone to 911 half the building will be shot up.

    Once LE does arrive the active shooter will have either offed himself or been stopped by an armed citizen. One hopes for the latter.

  12. avatar Silver says:

    By the time the police get there, it’ll be too late, as always.

    Proper “active shooter drills” should involve arming teachers and having THEM run the course.

  13. avatar Ben Eli says:

    At my school we did have a “shooter” roam the halls. If he could see you, or open a room to find you, he pointed a finger at you and said “Your dead.” The worst statistic was around 16 dead. We also had local PD SWAT use our campus for drills when students weren’t there. They did have student stand-ins, but I always wished I could have been part of the drill. They used our campus basically because it was big, multiple buildings to search, and lots of sneaky hide out spots. It resembled a college campus in some ways, and local PD couldn’t train in any of the local colleges as easily.

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