‘It’s Sick That We Have to Do This’: Do We Really Need Shooter Drills?

Schools are trying to find the right way to prepare for carnage in the classroom.

Comments: 104

  1. The best analogy is Fire Drills. How many more children would be injured or even killed, if Fire Drills were NOT done ? I agree that the “ realism “ needs to be toned down, to reduce distress for Children. But nothing succeeds like repetition and practice. These Drills need to be done, and done often, until it’s second nature. I agree that it’s sick and heartbreaking. But until the GOP/NRA Party is out of power, we must be realistic VOTE for Democrats. Each and every time. END THIS.

  2. @Phyliss Dalmatian Like that is going to change the individual who has no respect for the life of another and wants to make their mark on the world by committing mass murder. If you truly are interested in changing this then it starts with you. It starts with every single person. Everyone is going to have to stop looking down on others because of some difference or perceived difference. Children learn Hate from their parents, their family, friends, from the Pulpit and from politicians. You cannot sow hate and division and not expect stuff like this to happen. You can't stop suicides unless you start paying attention to the people around you. There are many other factors to also be considered such as parents spending more time at work just trying to make ends meet and little if any time with their children. Its even worse for single parents. Its tim for people to earn enough in one job to make ends meet and raise their children. As it is now TV,Computers, smart phones and social media is raising our children and the result is awful.

  3. @JustaVET You have a point, but the fact is, countries with stricter gun laws do not share the level of gun violence we do. We need to start with stricter gun laws. I try to practice to Golden Rule all the time. Doing so never eased my intense anxiety during school lockdowns when I was a teacher. We live in a sick society DUE to our lax gun laws.

  4. Do schools and businesses and other facilities have fire drills? Yes. Why? Because schools and businesses and other facilities sometimes, pretty rarely, actually, do have fires. It is therefore considered prudent to have, you know, fire drills. Fire drills seems to be rather less extreme and agitating than shooting drills. Fires occur much more often than school shootings, so perhaps we should scale back shooting drills to the physical and emotional level of fire drills.

  5. @Arctic Vista Perspective doesn't sell newspapers or attract eyeballs.

  6. The more things change . . . . I remember 'duck and cover' drills in the 50s to prepare us for the inevitable nuclear attack. I remember the teacher pointing to a whole wall of windows on the east side of the room saying that the city was that way, so the bomb would go off there and broken glass would fly into the room from that direction. At the age of six or seven we followed instructions but I don't think any of us actually expected to be killed in a nuclear blast any more than children today expect to be shot by a madman--it's their parents who are made frantic by the politically motivated news media doing whatever they can to stir up interest and advertising revenue; the risk is in fact close to zero. BTW, it was, I suppose, 30 years later that we found out the Russians had no means to deliver a nuclear bomb to our neighborhood in those days--we were in no danger at all.

  7. @Ronald B. Duke I remember those days. I remember in 1964 a picture of Hawk Missiles on a beach in Florida pointed at Cuba. I also knew that duck and cover was a farce and I was not a teenager but already understood the physics of a fission and fusion bomb along with their destructive capabilities . The thing that is really telling though is you could walk out into the parking lot and open any truck or car and find a gun. Many were hanging in the back window of trucks. Yet we didn't have these mass shootings. We didn't have any kind of shootings. No boy in school was without a pocket knife and yet there were no stabbings. So the question is what changed. Guns were easily available. You could order cannons, machine guns or whatever you desired firearm wise out of a catalog with ease and delivered to your home without the governments involvement. So what changed?

  8. @Ronald B. Duke Yes, I remember "duck and cover" too. It was hard to curl under the desk, especially for girls. Remember, in those days, girls could not wear pants to school. So the position under the desk could be a little awkward. Nonetheless, these drills were just something we went through. During the drills, wasn't thinking about being killed. I was thinking about getting back to my schoolwork

  9. Here is an idea: Let's restructure our economic institutions so that people are not so insecure in the basic necessities of life and then restructure our political institutions so that people do not feel so alienated by the system. And then for good measure, curtail data collection and make algorithmic targeting illegal so that people cannot get so spun up and agitated while technology delivers them a non-reality. I think that'd help.

  10. Schools need to do their math to determine what the chances are that any one school in America will ever have an active shooter. I am sure they will find that the answer is near zero. There is way too much news coverage on the events that do happen which results in overreaction.

  11. We need to remind our children, and ourselves, that schools are still the safest place for children.

  12. Mass shootings are tragic and undoubtedly newsworthy. Images of painfully devastated parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Stoneman Douglas have become embedded in the national consciousness. Thus, I am not surprised by these drills, though their practicality is dubious. Human beings suffer from innumeracy and are prone to misunderstanding and exaggerating risks. This was present during the HIV outbreaks in the 80s and the more recent Ebola “crisis” in which only a handful of people died on American soil. Students have a greater chance of dying in a car crash on the ride from school than perishing in a mass shooting. Irrational fear of a heinous though exceedingly rare event has prompted shooting drills.

  13. I would prefer my child to be among those in Britain during the Blitz than one in an American school today. Between piling on these children the information that the climate could end our species, they are being reared to beleive living in a quasi war zone is a natural state. The paranoia of America in future generations will make it thus that other countries will need to account for its unusual psychology. IT will be an outlier even more than today. Just horrific.

  14. @EC These new generations of Americans will never understand the freedom of living in a place where gunfire is not a constant threat. IT makes them dangerous to the rest of the world.

  15. @EC How are we dangerous to Australia exactly? If we are dangerous, don't do business with us. Get ready to spend generations kowtowing to China.

  16. We have fire and tornado drills to improve the odds that kids will be safe should one occur. There's improvement every time we practice. Practice lock downs for the same reason. Being unprepared doesn't do the kids any favors.

  17. @CLH Yea, but if there is a fire in Texas, it isn't national news for the next week. With fire drills, someone rings the fire alarm, you think its another one of those stupid drills, and you walk outside completely calm until you get the all clear. The point is that you practice so much it's silly so that when there is a real fire you go through the motions of doing the right thing without thinking it's a big deal. It seems like with the shooter drills, the students hear about the mass shootings on the news as a major story and think that they might be next. Then they do the drills, in some schools with fake blood and shooting for "realism", and then the student are traumatize thinking they might die. I think we need to account for how the drills are framed. Is just a stupid preparedness exercise? Or is it a panicked reaction to the news and a traumatizing exercise?

  18. When I grew up in the '50s and '60s we had air raid drills in school. The papers were full of articles about fallout shelters. In our town, the air raid alarm would go off at 2 pm every Wednesday, throughout my whole childhood, and beyond. There was a couple of years, say between about age 9 and 12, that if I heard any sustained siren that wasn't at 2 pm Wednesday, I'd get scared. I got over it. In fact, it was only in one of these shooting drill discussions recently that I remembered that.

  19. I've been through a few active shooter drills and they are helpful but I live in a gun culture that accepts weapons. Basically, by installing shooter drills the district accepts the idea that guns are part of society. Instead of placing metal detectors all over the school they are doing shooter drills.

  20. No, we really do not need shooter drills. Multiple studies including several cited in this paper have concluded that the safest place for a child is on a school campus. My toddler daughter will be entering the school system in a couple of years, and I will not allow her to be exposed to either the psychological trauma of extremely unlikely "what-ifs" that shooter drills would plant in her still-developing brain, nor to the accompanying message that an intimidating government is an omniscient oracle worthy of unquestioned obedience.

  21. @Charles Isn't the government a representation of what the people have voted for? I really don't understand the anxiety of a situation where your government suddenly decides to inflict harm on it's citizens, and that guns are therefore somehow necessary and helpful. Sure, the probability that a shooting happens on your daughters school is pretty small, but still - it happens, and there is a risk. In my opinion a far greater risk of a government that decides to go rogue on the citizens they're elected by, don't you?

  22. Humans typically misallocate risk, focusing on sensational rare occurrences while ignoring the everyday ones. It seems there are other more important risks for which to prepare than shooters attacking schools. Some of the biggest sources of harm are from everyday items and activities, accidents particularly cars, illness, and mental health issues like bullying and suicide. Even then, the sports regime in schools possibly does more harm to human welfare through head injuries. The real solution for guns, although not likely to take hold, is to reduce and eliminate them.

  23. As with so many complex dilemmas, the answer to the question is both/and. Shooter drills are both necessary to reduce the anxiety of responsible adults and potentially damaging to the kids who do the drills. Parents may feel more secure but the kids are at risk for serious anxiety, worry, fear, anger and even depression. Multiple drills may cause low-grade PTS in the most vulnerable children. Meanwhile, there will still be over 300 million guns in the US.

  24. Home schooling is the only way to go since the politicians do not care one bit about our children. We glorify military weapons and have drills for shootings . Since the politicians dont care about the citizens I will homeschool because our children should not be basket cases because they are in constant fear of their lives. Afraid of the police, afraid of shooters coming into schools, supermarkets, walking down the street. God forbid that shooters have to follow any rules. Please dont tell me that these drills dont hurt our children for life. I want my children to be normal and happy if that is ever going to be the case when people can walk down the street with their guns in front of us.

  25. @Tony Let's make one thing very clear, and perhaps make it clear to the children as well: It's not "politicians" who do not care one bit about our children, it is Republican politicians who do not care.

  26. Impossible to "grow up normal and happy" in this country. After living in three other countries over 20 years, I speak from experience. When foreign visitors come here and we walk through beautiful neighborhoods, t hey ask "Where are the children? There are no children playing outside." I explain that parents in the U.S. fear abduction, gunfire, bullying, getting dirty, etc. (Despite statistics that children are quite safe outside on their own.) To quote the stable genius, "SAD!"

  27. @Tony Homeschooling is fine if you can do it. But what about people who don't have your educational level? We as a society owe the children of people who didn't get past high school, or whose native language isn't English, a decent education in a safe environment.

  28. “Do we need shooter drills?” is simply the wrong question, that’s why no one seems to know quite how to respond to it. The question that really needs to be asked is this: do we “need” to create, and then tolerate over multiple decades, a reality so horrible, and a collective sense of helplessness in dealing with that reality so great, that the only response to this terror we can think of coming up with as a society, is to inflict lasting psychological trauma on ourselves and our children? Is a debate over the question “do we need shooter drills in schools”, however serious and reasoned that debate is, really the best we can do?

  29. I think having shooter drills is a pragmatic approach that makes sense given the current state of affairs in our country. Children have always taken part in fire drills ( I recall doing them both in school and on school busses); a real fire/explosion requiring evacuation would be a devastating and traumatic event, that could (but probably won't) happen to any given school child .... similar to an active shooter situation. Better safe than sorry, even if learning to be safe is somewhat stressful.

  30. @GBR When my school did fire drills we all experienced them as a break from the tedium of school and a way to get outside for a few minutes. No one set fake fires as a way to drive home the terror we should feel should a real fire happen. When we did "duck and cover" drills in the event of a nuclear explosion (get under your desk and turn your rear end to the window - yeah, that'll work) no one set off a simulated explosion to make the drill seem more real. Active shooter drills are unfortunately necessary but having people pose as shooters, firing blanks and banging on doors is totally unnecessary and scares the kids beyond the stress of having the drills in the first place.

  31. Teachers are attacked by their students every day. Perhaps we should manage this crisis before we spend time on extremely rare shootings?

  32. The comparison to the risk of being struck by lightning is interesting. We certainly do teach children about lightning storm safety, including how to minimize risk (if caught out in an open field, avoid trees, for example). Overall, though, it's just sick. Other countries do not have this problem, and we should not either.

  33. The people who do these crimes have often given ample evidence of being very disturbed and even violent, and no action has been taken. The father of Parkland survivor, Meadow, has written a book, "Why Meadow Died", about how lax school discipline enabled the Parkland shooter to commit his murders. Instead of emotional ranting about how evil we are, etc. why don't we look at how we are handling the obvious mental cases in our midst.

  34. Shooter drills are just the latest evidence that we're a fearful nation. A generation or two ago, schools had bomb drills and taught schoolchildren to duck under their desks in case of an atomic bomb, as if that would help. If we didn't have shooter drills, there would be some other boogeyman dreamed up for which to have school drills. Does anyone else think it strange that almost no other place in America has regular shooter drills? Why mainly in schools? It's because public monies are easily accessed by these testosterone-laden, profiteering guys who want to scare parents and educators into handing over their (public) money and fattening their wallets.

  35. If we really cared about protecting school children, we could begin by banning assault-type weapons and by passing other sensible gun laws.

  36. The fact that two of my grandchildren live in Minneapolis, and they have the drills, and the other one lives in Switzerland, and they don't, it is more worrying for the ones in this country. How I wish that there was no violence around the world in the endless civil wars, religious wars, and gun violence. It doesn't appear that the nature of the human animal has evolved into having policies in place, that make disinterest in war, and gun violence, the norm.

  37. Active shooter drills are not there for the protection of the children. Rather, they are there to allay the fears of parents who misallocate risk, similar to parents who fear kidnapping from strangers (statistically a non-event, under 175 children per year). The article itself points out just how unlikely these events are--similar to being struck by lightning. Do we have lightning drills? About 700 kids die annually from drowning. An incredible number of these kids never learned to swim (which is why minority children are several times more likely to die from drowning than whites). How about we save lives by mandating swimming lessons? The highest cost of shootings is not in the deaths, it's the fear--similar to the cost of terrorism. These drills simply spread fear.

  38. Just curious because I was a lifeguard 40 years ago, and my son is one today, he is also a swim instructor. His clientele are mostly middle class kids from a very diverse neighborhood, and he is paid by the county, not the parents. The “minority” kids learn just as quickly and swim just as efficiently as the few, uh, non minority kids. That was also my experience. What is your basis for saying minority kids do not learn to swim? And what kind of false equivalence are you proposing - do you have reports of people breaking into schools and forcing children into swimming pools to kill them? The risk is not the danger, actuarial tables cannot define or reduce fear of random violence because it is itself irrational. If you can’t swim you know to stay away from deep water; how do you stay away from monsters carrying hundreds of bullets that can kill from a football field away?

  39. As a high school student, it is sad to see when students have to worry if there will be a shooter at schools. Hence, just like any other drills like fire or earthquakes, there is a mandatory shooter drill in America. In other countries, this isn't as necessary as it is here -- that's saying something. Sadly at this climate, this is psychologically affecting a lot of people including preschoolers who may be worried about wearing light up shoes because the shooter may see them. Clear backpacks for transparency -- I think that is ridiculous. In my opinion, we need gun reform now. Not later, not ten years. I am getting sadly numb to these shootings. It's not a "do we need" it's a "why do we need" these drills.

  40. I have worked as a substitute teacher, but I could not handle this kind drill-nor deal with the students. I have been threatened by gun violence before, at length, and have a relative who was in a school shooting in classroom. Would my PTS reaction disqualify me now from working as a sub? I need to find out what kind of drill my districts may do--I have not grown up with this unlike the students, if I heard blanks going off I would have a very bad incapacitating reaction myself and be unable to help students.

  41. Drills are the price we pay for the ability to shoot all sorts of guns anytime we want to because it is super fun to shoot guns. This is America, darn it. Who cares about dead kids? This is essentially the choice the vast majority of american gun owners have made. Of course, they'll never admit that the reason they like guns is because it is super fun to shoot stuff. They'll say all sorts of things instead, like they need to protect themselves against a tyrannical government, for example. And the fact that said tyrannical government holds the single largest stockpile of thermonuclear weapons, rendering their cache of AR15s meaningless, would mean absolutely nothing to them. Or they'll say they need it for personal protection, yet even law enforcement officers say how difficult it is to shoot accurately under the duress encountered during a personal protection scenario. Then they'll cite the 2nd amendment but they'll leave out the whole part of maintaining a well regulated militia like its somehow 1793 again. Then they'll go on to say that the problem with mass shooting isn't guns, it's mental health issues. That has to be it, naturally. As if the reason Sweden doesn't have mass shootings is because they figured out the mental health problem and are keeping it a secret from the rest of us. Yeah, sick is good word to describe it. I can think of many others that are probably a lot better than sick, but they are not suitable for print.

  42. I deal with computer security issues professionally and have been taught that the formula for assessing risk based on probability and loss. Given just how rare mass murders in schools are, have teachers and administrators do a bi-yearly tabletop exercise and for students integrate age appropriate civilian emergency medical training into the curriculum. I have taken Stop the Bleed and CPR classes. That will save more lives and give students the toolset to dramatically reduce death and disability from accidents and misadventures while not psychologically scaring students.

  43. Before we continue traumatizing and terrifying millions of children, show us the EVIDENCE that these for profit security company enriching shooter drill "trainings" have saved lives or made a difference. Hundreds of shootings later, show us how lives have been saved. If this safety outcome remains hypothetical, then let's ditch this practice because the impact it is having on our children and our culture is NOT hypothetical. Let's focus our resources where they might make a real difference: passing common sense gun laws that end the insane sale of military style weapons and bullets for civilian use.

  44. The money spent on these drills would be better spend on school therapists, counselors, intervention services, etc., to prevent the tragedies from happening in the first place. There is no evidence they work. And they shouldn't be compared to fire drills. I have been through countless fire drills. Never once were we told there was actually a fire.

  45. We moved from Charlottesville, VA for 2 reasons; the first being the election of Donald Trump, the second being the lack of substantive legislation addressing gun control. Yes, Christchurch, NZ where that infamous mass shooting occurred at the mosque. The bad news was the shooting; the good news was NZ did something about it. Currently there is much posturing and deliberation about "background checks." I'm sorry but that doesn't cut it. The U.S. needs to get rid of semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines. No one needs either, not hunters, not "home defense advocates, not anyone. Shame on U.S. politicians for not having the courage and the moral spine to do something that may help protect defenseless men, women, and children.

  46. Active shooter drills are now crucially important to America, our American way of life and our proud first responder teachers. - Fact: If you throw things like desks and books at the gunman when they kick in the door to your classroom - their shot accuracy goes way down. Less children and teachers will die. I learned this in the active shooter power point required attendance instructional lecture at our school. Extremely helpful. When the active shooter enters the building you (according to the lecture) .....have 30 seconds to respond.

  47. How many times do you read about police stations being attacked? Police stations are fortified, where people must get buzzed in and there are armed personnel within. If we copy this simple procedure school shootings would drop dramatically, if not stop completely.

  48. The article is about children being traumatized. Not sure putting them in a fortified bunker surrounded by armed personnel will alleviate that problem. But hey it’s better than regulating deadly weaponry right.

  49. @LWib Safety first, politics second

  50. After Sandy Hook, I walked through my son's fifth grade classroom with him and we talked about what he should do in the event of a gunman in his school. Not hiding under the desk was at the top of the list. Every room in his school has an exterior door and that too was at the top of the list. When he changed schools, we did the walk through again. Having some small plan in the depths of your mind enhances your chances of survival in these unlikely and random events. I was a Boy Scout and am now an instructor in active shooter drills at my workplace. Better to...."Be Prepared".

  51. My biggest hope is that as these school children come of age and are able to vote, they will vote for politicians who will stand up to the NRA and rid our country of assault weapons. I'm 61. I can't imagine going through 12 or more years of school with the knowledge that someone could come in and shoot up my classroom. My time in school sure wasn't like that. And most American gun owners never went through it either. But these kids have. They know what it is like to be afraid, day after day after day. America's children deserve better than this. The Parkland kids know it. So do the Sandy Hook kids. And countless other school children from all across our nation. So when they are able, I hope they all show up and vote. Maybe then things will change. Let's get it started now. Vote Democratic in 2020. Every office, every seat. We can make change happen. Vote.

  52. If this is how we want to raise our children then lets do it right and go all the way. Have active shooter drills where they see their classmate and or teacher killed in front of them. Have the children send text messages to loved ones. Have the media as part of the drill and have mock reporters flood in to the sight seeking video and interviews with traumatized survivors. Then lets have them attend autopsies of real victims of gun violence so they can really experience and know the seriousness of it all. Yes let's get our children ready, because apparently this is the reality we have made for our children.

  53. Many years ago, I was part of the generation that knew what to do when the teacher shouted "Duck and Cover", knew what to do when the bells sounded for a fire drill. Such simpler times, no negativity or stress from those exercises for me throughout my life. With over 300,000,000 guns and billions and billions of rounds of ammunition in the hands of a part of our population that conveniently defines the 2nd Amendment, we will never have freedom from mass murder. No laws, no bans, no education will help as those predisposed to murder will find a way to obtain weapons to kill. How do we diffuse hate? How do we accept inclusion? How do we do the right thing? I do know that we all breathe the same air, share the same sun, have seen the miracle of childbirth and the sadness of death. Unless we change, we are a crumbling nation that is headed to the abyss.

  54. As I look back to my grammar school days in the '50s I vividly remember the duck and cover drills that were supposed to protect us in the event of a nuclear war. At the height of the cold war it seemed, at least to us third graders, that hydrogen bombs could come raining down on us at any minute. If they did there was no hope that hiding under a flimsy wooden desk was going to protect us; if they didn't we were indoctrinated into the anti-Communism that was raging at the time. Adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance didn't make us feel any more secure. I wonder if the active shooter drills are this generation's duck and cover.

  55. Very timely for me as I am working on creating signs to hang in our school district restrooms with instructions on what to do during an active shooter incident when you can't get to a safe room. We have color-coded doors to indicate rooms that can be locked from the inside during an active shooter incident. Truly a sad commentary on the leadership of this nation that we cannot have a rational discussion about responsible gun ownership, let alone enact common-sense policies, for the sake of our children. There's apparently no depth that politicians will not sink to for the almighty dollar.

  56. I was always amused by the thought of Neighborhood Nuclear Superiority. The outcome is the same but much quicker. No more bad guys.

  57. Today having "shooter drills" is akin to having atomic-bomb drills in schools in the 50's and 60's--terrorizing children who know that something bad may happen to them. Just as any thinking child understands that hiding under a desk will not save them from a massive explosion, so do they also know that hiding in a classroom still makes them a potential target of a gunman.

  58. Do millions of children in countries with strict gun laws and safer populations have to deal with these frightening drills?Why not? They have mentally ill people too, but much more public safety. They don't have to worry about their bodies being ripped apart by bullets, when they go to school, work, church, shopping, etc. The Times should make it a priority to analyze how strong gun laws actually work in other countries. Interview some of their citizens and lawmakers---and gun makers. How come they don't have the same chain of causation that leads to regular gun mayhem, US style? Why are we forced to tolerate this? Do their politicians have to get letter grades from gun makers, and lobbyists, and compete with other candidates for big money to run for office? See Richard Painter's NYT op ed---"The NRA Protection Racket." Discuss these related statistics: Our high rate of shootings, plus we're the only modern country to lack health care for all. Plus we have a bigger % of population in prison than other countries. Compare and analyze other democracies' laws and attitudes. Do they have such high profit industries in guns, medical care and prisons? Google it, NYT. Put it out there. Put pressure on our lawmakers who distort the 2nd Amendment, who are willing to sacrifice our lives, as the 'price to pay for American freedom'. Interview some people abroad. What would they do if their politicians treated them with such callousness?

  59. I see the logical comments using the statistics of risk to minimize the danger our children really face, comparing to traffic accidents for example. One comment mentioned the irrational fear of Ebola outbreaks, and HIV scares. The danger our children face is psychological, emotional, and is immune to logic. Children grow up today surrounded with realistic examples of our good guys dispatching bad guys over and over in tv and movies, likewise, they travel hundreds of times in vehicles and never experience an accident. When they see bad guys killing kids like themselves and no good guys are there to protect them, there is a transference that does not happen with a tragic accident. Kids know accidents happen, and what makes it an accident - lack of any intent. The cars aren’t out to kill them, specifically, but those crazy shooters are, and we have demonstrated we cannot predict or prevent the massacres of people just like them, in any way. We can’t make them safer like we do with seatbelts, airbags, immunizations, condoms. It is random and aimed at them specifically. Instead we have drills to try to reduce the chances they will be killed when the shooter comes, reinforcing the futility of eliminating the threat. We teach them that this is a fear they must learn to accept, every day, because the adults can’t recognize the obvious answer. Ask a kid how he would keep people from being shot with guns if he were President, and you will hear: throw away all the guns.

  60. So it has come to this. What does the NRA have to say? What do our worthy Republican congressional elected leaders have to say to their constituents? Do they stand up and proudly tell us that they "have our backs?" School shootings may soon be categorized as a 9/11 event. This is what America has become. Aren't we all proud.

  61. President Obama may have been derided for his remarks about them "clinging to their guns and religion" but he was 100 percent right. As long as the 47 percent whom elected our current excuse for a President continue to vote while thumping the bible and spouting about thier 2nd amendment rights little Johnny and Mary will have to practice dodging gunfire.

  62. When was the last time a school kid died by a fire? Sprinklers, smoke detectors, better building codes and materials solved that problem. Not fire drills. Why do we have so much money for “active shooter drills” but none to solve the problem? Always follow the money.

  63. The country is exceptional in its irrational tolerance of combat-grade weaponry in the hands of millions of non-security employed citizens. We're not safer because of this exceptionalism, we're sicker.

  64. I was a NYC public school teacher for 15 years. And practiced active-shooter drills during that time. It was a K-8 school. We were always concerned about how to tell the youngest children about what the drills were about. Or to even tell them. Of course with the kindergarteners and the lower grades we never mentioned that we were practicing hiding in case someone came into our school with intent of murdering us. But if you think these youngest students never had an inkling of what we were doing you would be wrong. Schools are social institutions and as such students talk to each other, a lot, during the school day. Those younger students would learn the purpose of those drills - perhaps in a distorted way - because of the adults' desire to shield them from the harsh reality. The truth is we couldn't hide the truth from them. I'm all for doing such drills. But I fear that some may see such procedures as a solution to the problem of rampant-murder-in-our-schools. Such drills are a reaction to the problem. Not a solution!

  65. Somebody needs to tally ALL the costs of allowing these weapons to be available to the public. It’s sure to be billions. Police, security hardening the schools. A waste of human endeavor for the personal vanity of the owners. A useless weapon unless you wish to kill all around you.

  66. I am 60 years old and back in school. It was mandatory for students to take part in an active shooter lecture. Like seriously what to do? Well run, run as fast as you can and hide. Then I thought of my granddaughters who are in K and 2nd grade and this just started making me more angry the longer I sat there. That these little children are being forced into this kind of “training” and scaring the snot out of them is sick. Sick. Sick. The problem is guns and until we do something about that all the training in world means nothing. Expecting our children to take on the role of “saving” anyone is sick, sick. This doesn’t happen anywhere else except in the US. What is wrong with us? We are a sick, sick country.

  67. Americans worrying about the dumbest things. If you are really worried about our kids being killed, swimming pools, medical mistakes, and distracted driving are far far far far more likely to kill than a shooter at school. But actual news about realistic dangers don’t sell newspapers.

  68. If my children were school-aged now, I would home school them before I would ever send them to a school with armed teachers and active shooter drills. This notion of hardening schools is straight out of nightmare. What the Devil are we?

  69. The answer? -- 1. Take away handguns and assault rifles from *all* civilians. They/we have absolutely no use for them. 2. Vilify the NRA. They’re the ones responsible for holding up gun reform, and everyone knows it. 3. Elect a woman as our President, and fill-up the House and Senate with women. Women don't like guns. You can be sure that they will get rid of guns, pronto! 4. Make murder, "a next-day public-hanging offense." [Public] fear of lurid, gruesome punishment is by far the best teacher of good morals. 5. Shame bad behavior of any kind, anywhere, at any time, as our Puritan forefathers were wont to do. It worked then, and it will work again. -- Truth hurts. Obey the truth, regardless, and prosper.

  70. Stop, drop and roll has given way to run, hide and fight.

  71. Unfortunately we do. As a teacher I'm the shield that protects my students which includes ( told in intruder drills now) taking the shooters life if need be. Sad that today's teachers/staff have to keep one eye on the job and the other at the classroom door.

  72. @Precarious Illusion You should be paid Hazardous Duty Pay for putting up this. You aren’t paid enough to be expected to protect and save children in an active shooter situation. No other non LEO position requires you to be prepared to give up your life for someone else’s children. Thank you for service.

  73. I have a friend who is a high school teacher who regularly posts on Twitter how we need "to save our kids" and complains about gun control. From what is described in the article, you're just making students anxious. And from I've seen you're making the teachers anxious too. Over something that is about as likely as getting struck by lightening. It's one thing if its like a fire drill where you teach people how to correctly respond in a dangerous situation but don't panic because they think its just another stupid drill. It's another thing if you are driving everyone crazy. Not only is an active shooter extremely unlikely, but you are likely to have people panic when there is an active shooter. And you are likely to increase political polarization due to anxieties over the gun issue, reducing the likelihood of meaningful gun control reform. You are just getting people scared or killed. So no, you don't need active shooter drills. Moreover, the news media should not report on mass shootings, in schools or otherwise. At least not in national news, releasing the shooter's identity. People become shooters because they feel powerless and lack meaning. In addition to the gun, going viral and being in the news for the next week gives them the attention and notoriety they seek and encourages copycats. Maybe if we didn't sensationalize their actions so much, fewer would-be shooters would be inspired and there'd be less anxiety about mass shootings, saving lives.

  74. @James I know that copycat shooters are a reality, but a shooter is a shooter and will do so regardless of the inspiration. I see media exposure as a tool of getting gun legislation passed. I don't want to stifle a free press when there is not only a necessity for it but good things that may come from exposure such as better preparedness and security as well.

  75. nice denial going on there. Not reassuringly

  76. Some random thoughts on/off topic: How about parents have "listening to our kids" drills? Remember, active shooters have been predominantly one color, therefore we need to be extra hard on these boys growing up. Stop with the coddling. Overheard at the cooler: "I went to an active shooting drill and school broke out." We will get to actual teaching one of these days I just know it! I teach fifth grade and NO, I'm not doing a dang thing for 9/11, except reading in the morning, some writing afterward, and finish the day with some exponents. I refuse to let the inherently paranoid control the narrative in my class. We had a meeting recently and someone mentioned that these kids need to be good digital citizens. "Yes..I have the solution" I answered: Stay off Facebook.

  77. When Americans stop whining about taxes and pay the costs to protect their schools as they protect airports and other government building, our kids will be safer. Till then, let the whining continue.

  78. The headline says it all. And America is stuck with this. It will be the same 50 years from now.

  79. Have you ever been present during a shooter drill? Last year I was working as a teaching artist in a class of second graders when the elementary school had a lockdown drill. Everyone knew it would be happening. The lights were turned off, twenty three seven and eight year olds were funneled into a small nook behind the computer table, and told to huddle together while the teachers and I instinctively formed a human shield around them. The classroom teacher was calming, in hushed tones kindly answering questions about “bad guys” and reassuring them it was only pretend every time the question was asked. She reminded them that the principal would be pulling on the door to make sure it was locked. The sudden rattle of the locked door made all of us flinch and a few students cry out. “That was to make sure that I’ve done my job! ” the teacher said, and some of the students sighed and let out nervous laughter. Then a boy raised his hand and asked “What would happen if I wasn’t in the room? If the door was locked but I wasn’t in the room?” Have you ever seen the blood run out of someone’s face? She told him what to do and reassured him she would keep him safe. A weeping student crawled into her lap. A curled up girl turned to me and whispered. “We do these ALL the time. Like ALL the time.” She rolled her eyes in exaggerated exasperation before putting her head back down on her knees.

  80. @Diane I had the exact same experience when I was a second grader. In the wake of Columbine, my catholic school started doing active shooter drills. We did the drills once, maybe twice a year, but the drill I remember most vividly was when our principal knocked and banged on our classroom door. My second grade classmates screamed and cried in fear. Part of the drill was to stay quiet, which we failed, so the principal left and then came back to our classroom, knocking and banging on the door again trying to test if we can stay silence. I think I was 6 at the time. I was at that school on a scholarship and was probably more aware of dangerous people than my classmates were. I knew it was fake, I even ran from one side of the classroom to the other against my teacher's wishes BECAUSE I knew it was fake. But that memory is still seared into me.

  81. Men and boys and fascinations with weapons. I grew up in Northern Va. in late 50' and 60's, most government and military families. We played 'guns' with fake rifles and toy machine guns gotten as Xmas presents we had asked for. No one got scared seeing us because nobody could own a real machine gun and the rare soul 'losing it' mentally would shoot themselves or maybe a spouse, but never a stranger. Canadians I ask about this current States issue just shake their heads. They are all hunters with guns, but everyone feels, and is, safer here, including the school kids. Imagine being a kid with that (paranoid/justifiable?) worry in school.

  82. We had bomb drills 1959 thru 1963 for some reason and then they stopped. We had to get under our desks and put ourselves into a ball covering our heads. I am 67 and I still remember them and while under the desk I would think about my family and that I would be dying without my mommie and sisters. Some friends had bomb shelters. I would beg my father and uncles to build one out back of grandpas house for all of us. I grew up surrounded by hunting gear and weapons like guns and somehow knew these were something never to play with . After Columbine and the response by the NRA through all these years I knew nothing would be done unless bravely legislated . These children going thru active shooter drills with their teachers will bond around this scary practice and be part of everyone’s collective memory. Hopefully their internal terror will not be in vain. Lately.....,, we seem incapable of normal reactions to all things having to do with common sense and respect for life.

  83. @nursejacki Yeah, now that you mention it. I'd forgotten all about that. I wonder who the bomb-threateners were supposed to be way back then? The under-the-desk thing was in case of thermo-nuclear attack (the Onion has a great article on how rad-safe our desks were back then), but the "bomb scares" caused building evacuations. No explanation of the latter was ever given.

  84. It strikes me that shooter drills described in this article are a spectacle that needlessly promote fear in parents and children. Worse, the money used to stage these needless spectacles diverts resources away from providing support for those alienated and disruptive students whose disconnection from school poses a greater long-term threat than the possibility of a "school shooter" invading the premises. I support Mr. Kazdin's clear-eyed response to school shootings: schools don't need to needlessly provoke fear in children and parents by staging "realistic" shootings; they need to practice how to calmly handle ANY school-wide emergency.

  85. As a teacher for 20 years, I’ve participated in many fire drills, as well as earthquake drills and lockdown drills. Schools do these because there are ways communities can protect themselves, in the unlikely event these things actually happen, by thinking ahead and working together. It shouldn’t be an exercise in panic. Practice in a calm and neutral manner and you may be able to access that in a real event if you ever have to. Teaching these skills is a nonviolent way of empowering children and communities. Practicing a few times each year ensures that most people know what to do. Schools can work with local police and plan ahead to respond to warnings by phone. I was in a school once where this happened. The potential shooter never entered the building. I don’t mean to say we don’t need better gun control laws. We do. But why not also do what we reasonably can to make ourselves safer?

  86. Took my granddaughter out to lunch a couple of weeks ago and we talked about active shooter drills. She said a couple of years ago there was an active shooter on her school grounds in Santa Monica, but was caught and no one was hurt. The main thing is the situation is making children fear going to school and it effects their learning. Like others, I had "atomic bomb" drills under my school desk, but this is far more stressful because they feel vulnerable to terrorism. .

  87. Taking a fear from the realm of the unknown into a well organized response by the kids as a group is a good thing. It makes them feel supported and able to react thoughtfully instead of panicking in confusion. Schools teach children how to react to far fetched possibilities such as mass murder, earthquakes and fires even though the risks are low because the consequences are great. The politicalization of schools preparing kids for worse case scenarios is probably unavoidable, but it’s not really helpful. The craziness of people who commit violence is impossible for any to explain, but blaming others for the acts who never had anything to do with it makes it even crazier. Yet, that is the meaning behind a lot of the commenting about how bizarre such drills happen to be. That is that kids would not need to prepare for mass murder if kids parents got rid of their guns.

  88. The NRA sez it's just the price of freedom patriotically paid by our children. Their sacrifice should be honored with a memorial in Washington or something.

  89. Kids do not understand the issues related to people shooting others with guns. It really does not matter when it comes to how to react in case the worst happens. Kids do not need to understand about fire nor earthquakes, nor hurricanes, nor tornadoes to be taught what to do. The drills teach teachers how to guide students and the kids how to respond. That’s it. Gun control is an important subject but it’s irrelevant when it comes to preventing panic and poor decisions during extreme emergencies, which are the purposes of these drills. When I was a child we drilled for bomb attacks and I never saw any kid display fear at anytime. It should not be so during these drills unless those conducting them are displaying it.

  90. I'm old enough to distinctly remember air raid drills during WWII. Living in California at the time we had regular drills, getting under our desk, and at times leaving the school building and marching up in a nearby forested hill and hiding under the trees. We kids found it quite exciting, to be honest. But these shooter drills are much more of a reality since these school kids have seen on the news actual shootings that have taken place here in our own country, with frightening frequency. National gun registration, background checks on all sales, even requiring gun owners to be licensed same as car drivers....these ideas all look

  91. Active shooter drills - NO!! Mathematically, weigh the odds of causing trauma, fear, anxiety and harm to a child by having these drills that would impact every student who experiences them vs the actual number of students impacted by an actual shooter and the answer is clearly no. This is an example similar to when treatment for a disease is more harmful than the illness itself. Risk to student health totally outweighs risk of an active shooter. I think there should be drills for faculty and staff only but after school hours when students not present.

  92. Norway has low numbers of gun violence and very strict gun control laws. The police, the leaders, and the participants in an annual youth retreat on an island in one of their cities never prepared for an active shooting situation. They thought that their control over guns made such preparations unnecessary. When it happened, only one group of people figured out how to save themselves by locking down in place inside of a building, the rest were easy prey. Seventy eight people died. With knowledge of how to react, scores of children and young people would have survived because the shooter would have been stopped. Instead, he was free to shoot for well over an hour, unimpeded.

  93. I grew up with a burning recognition of the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. Almost every adult male I knew had stories to tell about their service in WWII. The cold war. Newsreels before the main feature in movie theaters were lessons of frightening current events. School yard banter, working thru our fears:” better red than dead”. The chant seemed wrong, but comforting. Red was evil. what was that- death?. Red seemed better than dead. We were told to get under a school desk, or stand against a wall, and cover our heads. That behavior would save us. Sometimes I feel I have forgotten more of my life than I can remember, but I remember the fear of those exercises in futility. I am against atomic bombs. I am against guns. I am against murder. I am against terrifying generations of children by making them believe they will be safe if they listen well, hide, and save themselves from the enemy. Save the innocence of childhood. The children know what they are up against in this violent world. Don’t make them worry that they will die if they forget to behave the way they are told to do in a crisis situation. If they survive into their seventies, they will only remember the lunacy of this centuries’ effort to save them by telling them the new version of getting under the desk. Don’t traumatize children by making them responsible for their own safety. Tell them they are safe because we are going to get rid of the guns. And do it.

  94. I have had high school students tell me that they have a massage on their phones to send rapidly to their parents. It says “There is a shooter in the school. I may be dead by the time you read this. I love you so much.” They check how to exit every room they enter and where to shelter. The Oregon Healthy Teens Survey asks the question: “During the past 12 months, did you ever feel so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that you stopped doing some usual activities?” 30% of 8th graders and 32% of 11th graders respond Yes. Over 16% have seriously considered suicide. There has to be a better way to respond to this unspeakable travesty of gun violence than further traumatizing our children.

  95. Having students text their parents "goodbye" is extremely traumatizing and does nothing to further preparedness. A simple pamphlet with a list of dos and don'ts would be the best and least traumatizing preparation. Students below high school should certainly not be role playing. It is teachers and staff who need to be prepared and maybe role play. C. C. Kegel, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology

  96. The military has learned how difficult it is to prepare for low probability events. It requires relentless repetition and it helps to understand the purpose of each action. This is impossible when dealing with children and public schools. The result is that these shooter drills are feel-good activities that allow the schools to appear to be doing something. I wouldn’t mind if they were just wasting time, but apparently the children are actually being harmed. Enough already. By the way, I did duck and cover drills - also a waste of time.

  97. I am 78; out of touch with the "cry baby" element in our society. When I was 9-years old, our school had us measuring the hallways; and participating in drills because the Russians were going to drop an Atomic Bomb on our school and vaporize us. Didn't miss one night of sleep over the prospect and still don't. These school shootings are awful, but the problem isn't guns or even the shooters, its the social do-gooders who wring their hands and make our children mental weaklings. Never believe a psychologist; social worker.

  98. This cynical notion that "we have to do this" is both untrue, and also, quite insane. We can stop "this" (violent gun shootings and mass murder in our schools), if we want to.

  99. I wonder how high the suicide rate will go as all of these traumatized children have to deal with the stresses of adulthood?

  100. We all know that we wouldn’t need these kind of drills if our country enacted sensible gun control laws to make our children and communities safe. As an ex teacher who lived in a community that experienced a school shooting before Littleton, Colorado, I have been saddened and sickened by this continuing and uniquely American phenomena. I feel for both the teachers who are told they may have to risk their lives and for the children who know that they live in a culture of violence and fear. It doesn’t have to be this way! Why are we allowing second amendment extremists and the gun lobby to control our lives?

  101. Just FYI - we don’t do this in Canada. We watch the same movies and television; we play the same digital games; our rates of mental illness and suicide are much the same. We have just as many angry, isolated, disaffected young men. We have our share of racists, white supremacists, and bigots of every persuasion. On top of all that, we have far more refugees and “visible minorities per capita than the USA. So, if the cultures in our two countries are so similar, what’s different? Could it be the guns?

  102. . “It’s sick that we have to do this,” said the head of the security company (that is profiting mightily off this fear and raking in tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars). There. Fixed that for you, NYT.

  103. As my mentor always told me, "No matter how well you solve the wrong problem, you will not have a solution." This is what "Active Shooter Drills" in schools or anywhere else, save for police stations or military barracks, are. The United States of America is unique in the character and magnitude of this mass shooting problem. What can they learn from other countries that don't have that problem?