Other states, such as Arizona, use the lockdown drill.83 It is similar in concept to the
Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, and Arkansas active shooter drill laws discussed above, but it does
not involve active shooter simulations with props, guns, theatrical makeup and the like.84 Instead,
when the schools announce a lockdown drill, teachers sweep the area, bringing adults and
students into the nearest classrooms where they lock the doors and turn off the lights, remaining
quiet and out of sight.85 Lockdown drills are not just prompted by criminal threats to the school’s
children.86 In fact, Arizona schools use lockdown drills for weather or chemical-related
emergencies, as the lockdown procedure provides a safe space for students and adults alike.87
Furthermore, teaching can continue during modified lockdown procedure, while only the
students’ movement throughout the school building is restricted.88
“Lockdown drills” are not necessarily a new phenomenon.89 They have been used since
the Columbine massacre in 1999; however, because of Sandy Hook, the growing pressure to use
more realistic simulation drills has caused many parents pause.90 The use of theatrical make-up to
simulate wounds, real but unloaded guns, and armed police officers begs the question of whether
this is what makes students more prepared to respond in an active shooter situation.91 The
response of students and teachers in these drills seems to suggest that the simulated violence and
carnage are causing more trauma than necessary,92 while at the same time potentially failing to
prepare students more effectively for an emergency.
IV. ANALYZING THE USE AND EFFICACY OF ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS IN SCHOOLS
A. A Look at this Approach
Much of what is at issue with the active shooter drill is whether it actually provides the
best amount of preparation for students and staff in case there should ever be an active shooter
present on school grounds.93 The next major issue is the effect that they have on the students and
also on the school staff.94 A great deal of the “preparation” comes from the shock value of the
drills, in that they have been used to highlight just how emotionally traumatic these intrusions are
for staff and students.95 In fact, these active shooter drills have gone so far with terrifying students
that there have been reports of students text messaging their parents mid-drill and post-drill about
how traumatizing the experience was.96 Parents’ opinions are reportedly split on whether active
shooter drills are a wise response or an overreaction to past tragedies.97 But schools have
83 Karen Schmidt, School Lockdown Drills Regularly Practiced in Arizona, AZ CENT. (July 31, 2014, 3:54 PM),
89 Lisa Belkin, School Lockdown Drills: Where is the Line Between Preparing Our Kids and Terrifying Them?, HUFFINGTON POST
(Feb. 6, 2013, 4:39 PM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-belkin/school-lockdown-drills_b_2632252.html.
91 Id. See discussion infra Part V.A.
92 William McGuinness, Oregon Teachers Fail Active Shooter Drill as Masked Men Shoot Blanks at Surprised Faculty, HUFFINGTON
POST (May 1, 2013, 6:09 PM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/01/active-shooter-drill-oregon_n_3195706.html (questioning
the efficacy of school shooting drills as they stand).
94 See id.
97 Id. But see, Anna Almendrala, The Harsh Dilemma of Preparing Kids for the Worst at School, HUFFINGTON POST (Feb. 19, 2014,
10:52 AM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/19/active-shooter-drills-at-school_n_4785349.html (providing the perspective of