instructional media, such as educational videos.109 While these kinds of exercises might seem trite
in comparison to a full-scale drill, this may help schools avoid the repercussions of a full-scale
simulation, such as traumatized students or the potential for lawsuits.110 After the small-scale
exercises have been conducted, and if the school determines it is appropriate, only then does the
NASP recommend transitioning toward more complex, operations-based exercises.111
For simulations, the NASP notes that it is exceptionally important that those simulations
are preceded by extensive prior education and preparation, while also taking into account the
readiness of the individuals involved in the drill.112 The NASP notes a potential split in the results
of the drill, with some participants left feeling prepared and empowered, and others left feeling
emotionally traumatized.113 The NASP also explains that should the simulation drills include
simulated gunfire or individuals being tackled, then participation should never be mandatory for
students or staff.114 Unfortunately, for some states with the mandatory drill legislation already in
place, this “opt-out” provision is not available.115
However, some schools have shown that the process can be effectively carried out if the
active shooter drill is planned well in advance and its participants are aware of the process at its
inception.116 In those cases, the students are aware of the drills in advance, and their status as
volunteers shows that they were willing to participate in the drill and not surprised by it.117 The
issue, however, remains that the use of theatrical makeup to simulate gunshot wounds, the sounds
of guns firing, and the predatory acting on the part of the mock shooter, may all be too traumatic,
even with the benefit of prior notice.118 Further, the advantage of testing beneficial crisis software
during a drill119 may not outweigh the cost of the potential traumatic effect, even for those
previously-informed student volunteers.120
C. Should the Legislation be Amended to Control the Situation Better?
One option to deal with the contentious reactions and results of active shooter simulation
drills is to amend the legislation that mandates schools in their respective states perform them.
However, the practicality of this approach may be outweighed by further problems this can cause.
The first consideration is always the logistical one: Would the amended legislation pass? In the
immediate years following the Sandy Hook shooting, this question might not have been so
inhibiting, as some states, such as Arkansas, which proposed the legislation the month following
then passed the legislation within two years, a relatively short timeline.121 Now, with so much
112 Id. at 5.
114 Id. at 6.
115 See MO. ANN. STAT. § 170.315.3 (West 2015).
116 O’Shea, supra note 99; see generally Carolyn Thompson, School Shooting Drills: How Realistic Should They Be?, HUFFINGTON
POST (Jan. 31, 2013, 8:52 AM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/school-shooting-drills-ho_n_2589517.html (explaining
the ambivalence parents and students feel toward the use of active shooter drills).
117 See O’Shea, supra note 99.
118 See Thompson, supra note 116 (citing an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Buffalo about
necessity or lack thereof of extreme realism in active shooter drills).
119 See, e.g., O’Shea, supra note 99 (discussing CrisisGo, a mobile app that acts as an internal communication device to connect staff,
administrators, and emergency responders).
120 See, e.g., Nona Willis Aronowitz, Fake Blood and Blanks: Schools Stage Active Shooter Drills, NBC NEWS (Feb. 14, 2014, 3:48
AM), http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fake-blood-blanks-schools-stage-active-shooter-drills-n28481 (describing the visible
emotional reaction of student volunteers who were shaking and crying following the drill’s conclusion).
121 See Saylor, supra note 79; see S. 140, 89th Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (Ark. 2013), available at
ftp://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/acts/2013/Public/ACT484.pdf (codified at ARK. CODE ANN. § 6-15-1303(a) (West 2015)).