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Nation’s Two Largest Teachers Unions Join Anti-Gun Group To Slam Active Shooter Drills

By  Hank Berrien
Law enforcement and first responders from Cumberland and York Counties participate in a regional active shooter training at Deering High School led by the District II Training Council.
Staff photo by Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The two largest teachers unions in the country, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, have joined the anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety to release a report in which they oppose active shooter drills for students, writing, “Mental health professionals have begun warning about the effect of these drills on students’ well-being and about the possible short and long-term consequences on school performance and physical and mental health.” They add, “Our organizations do not recommend training for students and firmly believe that schools must be very mindful of the impact of active shooter drills that involve students and take that into consideration when designing such programs and determining whether to include students.”

The report states, “Active shooter incidents in schools are tragic and traumatize communities and the nation.” It argues, “Though there is scant evidence that they are effective at preventing deaths in school shooting situations, school-based drills are required in at least 40 states.5 But state statutes on this type of drill are often vague and leave the nature, content, and identification of who participates in these drills up to the interpretation of school administrators.”

The report continues, “While there is almost no research affirming the value of these drills for preventing school shootings or protecting the school community when shootings do occur, stories abound in the media of incidents where students, educators, and staff have experienced distress and sometimes lasting trauma as a result of active shooter drills.”

The report surmises that active shooter drills could actually aid a prospective shooter in knowing how to attack: “A recent study of mass shooters from 1966 through 2019 found that nearly all mass school shooters were students and they exhibited warning signs prior to the incident. In these cases, school preparedness protocols and procedures are being shared with the very individuals most likely to perpetrate an active shooting. This is exactly why these drills, if adopted by school districts, cannot be the sole element of a school safety plan.”

As the Associated Press reported, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, stated, “Everywhere I travel, I hear from parents and educators about active shooter drills terrifying students, leaving them unable to concentrate in the classroom and unable to sleep at night. So traumatizing students as we work to keep students safe from gun violence is not the answer. That is why if schools are going to do drills, they need to take steps to ensure the drills do more good than harm.”

Jean-Paul Guilbault, the chief executive of the Alice Training Institute, which supervises active shooter drills, stated, “According to a recent study conducted by The U.S. Secret Service, most school shootings last for two minutes or less, and nearly half of the events studied ended within one minute. That means it is up to us to keep ourselves safe for those seconds that will feel as slow as a lifetime. We drill so everyone has a plan when faced with danger, to give people a chance at survival.”


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