President Trump signaled Thursday that he does not believe that active shooter drills at the nation’s schools are a good way to address the rash of gun violence plaguing them.
“Active shooter drills is a very negative thing,” Trump said during a White House meeting focussed on a government response to mass shootings like the one that last week claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. “If I’m a child, I’m 10 years old, and they say, ‘We’re going to have an active shooter drill,’ I say, ‘What’s that?’ ‘Well people may come in and shoot you.’ I think that’s a very negative thing to be talking about, to be honest with you. I don’t like it. I’d much rather have a hardened school.”
Over the past two days, with much of the nation focussed on school shootings, Trump has repeatedly suggested that arming school teachers and staff with firearms would prove as a effective means of deterrence for future massacres.
Pressed on whether schools conducting preparedness drills was itself the wrong approach to helping protect students, White House principle deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Thursday the president felt that the term used to described the exercises was important.
“He said the term ‘active shooter drills’ could be frightening for young children. I think he thinks a drill that has a different name and is not, you know… the brand of it, frankly, doesn’t frighten children might be a better way to approach it.”
A report by the U.S. General Accountability Office in response to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School found that 40 states required that schools conduct drills to prepare for future incidents, the Washington Post reported.
While debate rages about how to best prevent future school massacres and to try and prepare students and teachers for the worst, the drills themselves have become the new normal in America.
“We cannot keep waiting around for something to change. Through regular active-shooter drills, schools can equip their students with the skills to react quickly and safely to frightening situations,” Retired FBI special agent executive and author John G. Iannarelli wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week. “It might frighten them at first, but they’ll get used to it, just like they’re used to fire drills.”