I oppose active-shooter drills because teaching people to live in constant mortal fear of mass murder is no way to run a civilization… and it distracts us from teaching people to deal with more common, everyday hazards.
Vox notes that an entire industry (ALICE training? That’s folks making money off your fear) is rising to capitalize on the expectation that schools terrorize our children with grim shoot-’em-up dramatizations, even without evidence that active-shooter training works:
But for school districts, some of which are now mandated to pay for such training, the marketplace has grown faster than the evidence, and despite arguments that it can heighten anxiety and trauma for children. After more than a decade of mainstream practice and millions billed to public schools, there’s a troubling lack of data backing a program taught to students at more than 3,700 K-12 students and 900 universities learning the ALICE way.
…there’s virtually no evidence about its effectiveness. “There’s what you would call a paucity of data,” says Kenneth Trump, a longtime critic of the program and himself a rival school safety consultant. “Anything anyone tells you is anecdotal.”
…“There is still no national standard for this,” says B.J. Bilbo, president of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials. “There’s no data. We are trying to organize something. We’re in the process of polling schools across the country, but we’re not there yet.”
…Part of the reason for the lack of data is that until 2018, Congress had effectively banned the Centers for Disease Control from studying gun violence as a public health issue by withholding funding [Peter Rugg, “The Big Business—and Questionable Effectiveness—of Mass Shooter Trainings,” Vox, updated 2019.10.17].
If all we have are anecdotes, we can find plenty of counter-anecdotes in which active-shooter drills injure participants:
This might help mitigate the teachers’ lack of tactical expertise, but can also go badly. In March, Indiana teachers said they were bruised and traumatized after being forced to kneel down and be shot “execution style” with plastic pellets as part of an active-shooter drill conducted by the county’s sheriff’s department….
Besides the cost of training, districts can also be hit by lawsuits. Iowa insurance company EMC reportedly paid out more than $250,000 in 2010 to settle claims by teachers injured in drills….
There are traumatic mental-health effects of the drills themselves, exemplified by the Oregon teacher who sued the school system after an active-shooter drill, arguing that she wasn’t told about the drill in advance. It wasn’t the first such suit either. In 2014, a Colorado nursing home worker sued her employer after an off-duty officer hired for a surprise training flashed a gun at her. That same year, an Ohio teacher sued his district for $125,000 after a cop tackled him during a lockdown drill [Rugg, 2019.10.17].
We should apply conscientious objection to active-shooter drills. As surely as the government cannot force us to pick up a gun and participate in war, the government (in this case, our public school districts) should not be allowed to force adults and children alike to participate in pretend-war scenarios that do violence to their bodies and minds and encourage them to practice violence. A teacher or a student who finds active-shooter drills morally objectionable should be able to decline to participate in that violence without repercussion.