The Problem With Active Shooter Policies

Mass shootings, in this day and age, aren’t unheard of.  School shootings are some of the most common headlines we see in our media. Time after time, innocent young people, pursuing their right to an education, have been gunned down in a space that’s supposed to be safe and secure. While there’s a multitude of actions that need to be taken to prevent these events from occurring on a national level, schools must also learn how to approach their active shooter procedures with care and logic. Students have the right to feel prepared and informed if the situation were to happen.

For South Bend Community Schools, during a “Code Red”, or in the case of an active shooter, teachers are instructed to lock their doors, turn off the lights, and cover the windows on their doors while students sit close together in the corner, expected to be quiet. Now, say that we were involved in a school shooting- how effective would that procedure really be? If someone comes to a school, during the school day, with a plan to shoot, pretending that nobody is in the classrooms is probably not the way to go. The shooter would find their way in, regardless, and sticking students in a corner, all together, makes it easier for them to kill more people in less time. There needs to be a plan of action, the situation is far too serious to just sit idly by, quiet, hoping to stay alive. 

One of my favorite teachers at Adams, Mr. Kingston, starts every semester by going through the drills and procedures with his class. When he gets to Code Red, he tells his students that they’re going to take action, not sit in the corner, pretending all’s well. His plan consists of barricading the door with his filing cabinets and tables and chairs, the whole nine yards. “Now, I thought I had it all figured out, until I realized the door opens the opposite way” is how he makes light of the situation, and continues by saying “but at least we’ve made some sort of barrier to make it more difficult for anyone to get in, and if anyone does get in, we’ll just start throwing stuff at them”. While I’m sure there’s a better way to handle the case of an active shooter, Mr. Kingston has a plan of action, which I believe is important. 

Speaking for myself, I have a plan of action in every classroom I’m in so that, in the situation that I would need it, I feel as prepared and safe as possible. As for almost all students I’ve talked to, they do the same. When asked if she, too, had a plan for the case of an active shooter, Logan Hansen responded with, “I have one for everywhere I go- it’s bad, I know, but I feel prepared”. I asked Noah Gring the same question, and he responded saying, “You’re asking the guy who sits facing the door or a window in a restaurant; of course I have a f****** plan”. Nearly everyone I’ve talked to doesn’t believe our Code Red plan is adequate enough to be effective. 

Students have to deal with the fear of being gunned down in their classrooms everyday, and it doesn’t make it any more bearable knowing that their school’s plan won’t keep them safe. There needs to be a change of plans to ensure students feel and stay safe.