Teachers unions and gun safety group calls for stops to unannounced school active shooter drills

Teachers unions and gun safety group calls for stops to unannounced school active shooter drills
(WFTV.com News Staff)

WASHINGTON — Teachers unions and a gun safety group are calling for schools to stop unannounced active school shooter drills saying it traumatizes the students.

This comes as Friday marks two years since the mass shooting a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people and hurt 17 others.

The group, Everytown for Gun Safety, was formed after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012 that killed 26 people including 20 children.

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The group worked with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association and found that 95 percent of schools across the country are doing active shooter drills.

“Active shooter incidents in schools are tragic and traumatize communities and the nation,” the report said.

They’re pushing to stop drills without notice and drills that mimic actual shootings with fake weapons or a fake suspect.

"No drill should be unannounced,” Deputy Director of Policy and Strategy for Everytown for Gun Safety Rob Wilcox said. "Drills when they're done the wrong way will instill fear, will impact academic performance."

For Wilcox, his concerns are personal.

"My son before he even started school knew to be afraid of it because my second-grader taught him about active shooter drills."

Wilcox said parents, teachers and students should be told before a drill is held.

The report points to an incident at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Florida in December 2018 where students said chaos broke out after an unannounced drill.

The Seminole County school district has since changed its policy and now gives notice before holding active shooter drills.

We asked the National Rifle Association about the report and spokeswoman Amy Hunter said: “As the foremost authority on firearms education and training and as the innovator of the NRA School Shield program, we believe that training is meant to inform and empower; it should never inspire fear or helplessness. Any effort to help make our schools more secure should be encouraged however, it’s important to note that prevention is just as important as mitigation when it comes to protecting our children.”

ALICE Training Institute offers active shooter training and said it does not support unannounced drills.

In a statement, CEO Jean-Paul Guilbault said:

“We believe drills are important because if faced with an active shooter situation, every second matters… An active shooter response drill is only effective if it is conducted in a safe and appropriate way. Advance notice and clear communication is critical. Under no circumstances should there be masks or surprise drills. Catering drills to the age and cognitive level of those being trained is also a necessity. ALICE’s ‘train the trainer’ program is specifically tailored to meet these conditions.

ALICE Training Institute strongly agrees with five of the six recommendations outlined in the recently published report from Everytown for Gun Safety. ALICE is extremely supportive of giving parents and students advance notice, tracking with data, considering the holistic person, and ensuring every drill is catered to the individuals age and ability. However, we believe that, when done appropriately, drills that simulate an event and allow students to practice their options, whether that be lockdown or evacuation, are the most effective to keep children safe. These issues are ever evolving, and we applaud Everytown and its partners for issuing this important research.”