Grassroots gun-safety group have been joined by two leading national leaders’ unions in questioning school active-shooter drills. They have also urged more research on the subject. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association joined the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund on Tuesday in issuing a white paper.
The white paper is issued on “The Impact of School Safety Drills for Active Shootings.” The paper argues that there is not sufficient evidence that shows the drills do much good. It also argues that there is a lack of research in showing that they can be “counterproductive” in producing trauma in students who become anxious about incidents that remain for the most part extremely isolated.
The paper says that since the Columbine, Colo., mass shooting in 1999, school shootings have been growing as a social concern. Following that mass shooting, there have been many shootings like rampages at Virginia Tech in 2008, at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb on Valentine’s Day the following year, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., in 2012, and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., two years ago, again on Valentine’s Day.
The paper also points out that “only 0.2 percent of the approximately 36,000 gun deaths a year occur on school grounds.” Active-shooter drills are being conducted in an estimated 95 percent of the nation’s schools. Last year, Illinois passed a law that called for districts to “conduct at least one law-enforcement drill that addresses an active threat or an active shooter within a school building.”
Kathi Griffin, president of the NEA-affiliated Illinois Education Association, the largest educators’ union in the state with 135,000 members, said: “Quite honestly, the idea that we have to do a shooter drill just makes me so, so sad.” The white paper also points out that “although nearly all students and educators experience drills, and a $2.7 billion dollar industry has grown up around the anguish of parents and school staff and the desperate feeling that we must ‘do something,’ there is extremely limited research available on drills’ effectiveness.”