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Active Shooter Drill Debacle Shows We Aren’t Ready to Arm Teachers
Andrew Pillow
April 17, 2019

The last few years included some of the worst school shootings in US history. This has led to a number of policies and efforts aimed at curbing violence in schools. This includes everything from funding for metal detectors to active shooter drills. Some have even thrown around the idea of arming teachers with guns. While the latter idea makes sense on the surface, recent events have shown why we might not be ready for such action.

A couple of weeks ago, local law enforcement was contracted to perform active shooter drills in Meadowlawn Elementary in Monticello, Indiana.  The drill ended with teachers being split into smaller groups, being led into classrooms, and shot in the back, without notice, with plastic projectiles while kneeling against a wall. Many teachers were caught off guard, injured, and reportedly even traumatized. The backlash from this was so severe that Indiana lawmakers have now added language to a bill to prevent such training from happening again.

While the general public was generally on board with the idea that people shouldn’t be shot during active shooter drills, there were, of course, some dissenters on the internet who made their voices known in the comments:

“Odd. I don’t recall teachers complaining about not getting notice during real school shootings.”

“They need to be prepared on how to react in a real situation”

“Maybe they shouldn’t be defending children after all 🤔

While these comments completely missed the point about unexpectedly being shot with an air-soft gun in a back for professional development…in a morbid and misguided way, they are kind of right. Teachers are not soft and cowardly as some people have tried to imply. But, it’s obvious to anyone who observed or even heard about that drill they are not the people you want confronting an active shooter, and the addition of real guns wouldn’t change that. It could even make it worse, and the teachers in that drill reportedly volunteered for that type of training.

The use of pellet guns in shooter training is not new or foreign. Outside of recreation, that is probably the main use for them. However, Mrs. Williams the kindergarten teacher is probably not the target audience for such a device. If this type of exercise is too much for a trainee in basic combat training, they will probably find themselves separating from the military due to failure to adapt because handling those situations is a key component of their job and in some ways what they signed up for. This is not so for teachers.

The idea behind arming teachers is that it changes the school from a soft-target to a hard-target. The former being an unprotected or defended area, the latter being a highly defended area. Although it is up for debate, there is probably some value in making schools hard-targets. Domestic terrorists typically avoid them for a reason. However, the hardening of schools should probably be done through guards or school resource officers as opposed to biology and geometry teachers. Most teachers are simply not equipped for that task…and we aren’t just talking about their lack of guns.

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