Schools and Guns: It’s Time To Mandate Active Shooter Drills

It is time to mandate active shooter drills in schools.

I can say that I have been at a school where a shooting occurred, but I cannot say that I have been at a school where a fire broke out.

In 2011, I was working at Gardena High School when a student brought a gun to school. It was given to him by a relative to use for protection from gangs that approached him on his way to and from school. When he entered his second-period class, he sat down and was fidgeting with the gun in his backpack, and it went off.

A bullet hit one student in the arm and another in the neck. Immediately, every level of law enforcement descended on the school. The campus was locked down, and the story was all over the news. As we waited for the lockdown to be lifted, we tried to make sense of what was going on. We heard all sorts of rumors about what happened that was far from the truth. Nevertheless, we were all fearful, and none of us knew what to expect. We did our best to keep students safe and calm and worked to get through the incident. Despite their injuries, both students survived, but the campus was never the same.

Even though this was an isolated incident, we saw an immediate decline in enrollment. Parents no longer felt safe sending their students to our school. Our school then had a more prominent police presence, and it would be years before we shook the stigma of a school where a shooting had occurred.

As school shootings become more routine, it seems students and staff at schools are more likely to die in a mass shooting at school than a fire. Yet fire drills are routinely conducted while active shooter drills are not. In 2018 alone, we have already experienced 18 school shootings as of the time I wrote drafted this blog. In contrast, there have been eight fires at schools where 10 or more people were killed since 1958. The National Fire Protection Association attributes this decline to drills and training. Since data proves training and exercises save lives, isn’t it time to mandate all schools conduct active shooter drills?

As a student in school, I recall participating in numerous fire drills. We routinely practiced how to drop down under our desks in the event of an earthquake and learned how to line up and calmly exit the building in the event of a fire. The exercises just seemed inconvenient, and I was sure what I was learning would never be put to good use.

The likelihood that students and staff will experience an active shooter situation is higher than the probability they will experience a fire. We must do our due diligence to make sure they are ready and know what to do in the event an active shooter situation occurs. Individuals are able to survive life and death situations because of the instincts they develop from drills and exercises. We have to ensure that our students and staff are provided the tools and instincts to how to survive these unfortunate circumstances as their lives depend on it. Now is the time to mandate active shooter drills in schools.

What do you think?

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Gary Hardie

Gary Hardie

Gary Hardie was born and raised in Lynwood, California.
He attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, majoring in English, with a minor in marketing and is pursuing his MBA in Organizational Leadership and Sustainable Business Practices at Pepperdine University.
Hardie currently works as a Regional Manager for a non-profit educational service provider in Los Angeles providing extended learning opportunities in after school, intervention, outdoor education and summer programming.
He also serves as a governing Board Member for the Lynwood Unified School District Board of Education, the same district he attended school growing up.
His work and volunteer experience in public school settings has provided him with expertise in financial planning, budgets, organizational development, staffing, personnel, parent relations, grant writing and program development.

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