Call for Active Shooter Drills

 Photo by Heather Mount

Photo by Heather Mount

On February 14, 2018, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; killing 17 people and injuring many others. The irony of this tragic event is that it landed on the same day that the Saint Valentine’s Massacre occurred in 1929. When I heard of the Parkland shooting, I was (and still am) bitter about how mass shootings have become common in the times we live in now. What I found even more irritating was that my ears were exposed to the ongoing phrase that we hear echoing through the air: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims.” Words that are followed by no action. The good thing is…many brave high schoolers, who aren’t concerned with being “politically correct,” are taking a stand to ensure that schools are safe by removing assault rifles like the AR-15, banning bump stocks, and promising to vote out politicians who have delivered empty promises.

I applaud these future leaders who I know will make major changes in the future and continue to show that no matter what your age is, you can make a difference if you put forth the time and effort to do so. I completely agree that we should remove weapons of war, bump stocks, and politicians that are only for the money and not the people. But there’s another subject that I noticed hasn’t been covered as much….active shooter drills.

I wasn’t aware of active shooter drills until my father brought it to my attention a couple of weeks after the Parkland shooting when he heard it on the news. My father informed me that active shooter drills should be held twice a year to prepare students and faculty members in all schools. My father asked me if the University of Georgia, where I currently attend, has ever performed these drills before. I told him I didn’t know and he encouraged me to get in touch with someone who could provide me with answers.

A few days later, I sent an email to Student Affairs and asked them who I should contact if I had questions related to Public Safety at UGA. Unfortunately, I received no response from them (even though they’re usually prompt when responding to emails). Thankfully, when I reached out to a librarian on February 28, 2018, she provided me with the contact information to the UGA Public Safety for non-emergencies. That same day, I sent an email to Public Safety asking if UGA performed active shooter drills and if not, to please explain why. Twenty-five minutes later, the Chief of Police replied back to say “If you provide us with a telephone number, someone will call you to discuss. Thank you.”

I’m very disappointed that I didn’t receive a straight-forward response to my email. This was a yes or no question. Since many schools are funded for active shooter drills….has UGA ever used those funds towards it? If not, where do the funds go? I intend to follow up on these questions and remain engaged in this dialogue. 

Regardless, it’s important for schools and colleges to make sure faculty members and students are prepared for emergencies like this. Whenever a mass shooting occurs, the school goes into lockdown and everyone silently sits in the classroom confused about what to do next. I understand that none of us want to consider being in that situation….I know the students in Parkland, Florida never expected to experience this. Many schools receive funding for programs they proudly proclaim boosts the confidence of students and molds them into great leaders that can take on the business world. But what about funding programs that will make sure students and faculty are prepared if they ever find themselves in a life and death situation? Do schools even care? Does UGA care? What happened to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School could have easily happened to me, you, or anyone. It’s scary to think about and while I pray this never happens again, another shooting happened at a Maryland High School on March 20th.

I know that when it comes to school safety and gun violence, there are many different things that need to be touched on and one person can’t fix everything all at once. But active shooter drills are just as important as anything else. Students already have enough on their plate with schoolwork, after-school jobs, and other commitments they have. Safety is something we shouldn’t be inquiring about. If students ever find themselves in this horrible situation, at least they’ll have knowledge of what to do in order to make sure they make it out alive, because hiding in fear does little to help. Schools always say they care about the well-being of everyone on campus. But what they fail to realize is that these words are meaningless unless it’s followed by action. This is what high school students have shown in Parkland, Florida.

It’s time for us to raise our voices about this. Ask your school if they perform these drills and if they don’t, spread the word and encourage others to do the same. I know we all have busy lives (including myself) but if no one does anything, things won’t change. It’s easy for us to think, “Oh, it’ll never happen to me.” But the fact of the matter is, we live in turbulent times. This doesn’t mean that we should walk around in fear. It simply means that we should never let our guard down and work to do everything we can to make sure we’re all safe. 

Naomi Stamps