Firing Off Blanks in School Safety Drill Sends the Wrong Message to Our Kids

gunIf you have a kid at Cary-Grove High School in the Chicago suburbs, he or she is going to hear gun shots today. Don't worry, though, it’s all part of the plan ... for someone to shoot a starter pistol in the hallway during the school’s “Code Red” drill. Because it’s not frightening and disturbing enough that our kids have to undergo safety drills that have nothing to do with natural disasters -- now, apparently, they need sound effects!

In a letter to parents, the school principal explained that this crazy plan is to “provide our teachers and students some familiarity with the sound of gunfire.” The police chief elaborates, “The purpose is to take the Code Red drill one step further” because “many” students have “never heard a gunshot before.” And they shouldn't have to -- especially at school!


During the drill, teachers will lock their doors, close their curtains, and keep the kids in their rooms while police “sweep” the building and someone fires the gun. How insanely scary is that? Is this really the kind of military state we want to accept that we live in? I’m sick enough at the thought that my daughter’s elementary school has “lockdown” drills; I hate them, but I accept them. Adding gunfire to the mix totally crosses the line between helping the staff and the children be prepared to face a crisis and just plain scaring and traumatizing them.

Plus, firing off a gun in a school -- even if you’re shooting blanks -- does more damage than just freaking everyone out. It both normalizes AND sensationalizes the idea of a deadly weapon being discharged in a place that’s supposed to be safe. Some kids are going to find it scary, others will find it exciting, but they will all get the message that their school is not secure.

I’d keep my kid home on a day with something like this planned. What do you think? Am I overreacting to a pragmatic move?

Is shooting a gun in a school a huge step in the wrong direction?


Image via theknowlesgallery/Flickr

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