Suburban Chicago School’s “Code Red” Drill Will Include Shooting Blanks

Readers — Sometimes it is hard to keep swimming upstream, but here we go. Cary Grove, a high school in suburban Chicago, is set to run a lockdown drill tomorrow, this one with someone shooting two blanks in the hall, “in an effort to provide our teachers and students some familiarity with the sound of gunfire,” according to a letter from the principal.

Sure, I understand the impulse. And I know that many people will say, as does a woman in this CBS news report, “Better safe than sorry.” But I’m with another woman quoted, who pointed out that look, the school has fire drills, too, but no one runs down the hall with a flamethrower.

There seems to me something beyond preparation in creating a drill this morbid and dramatic. There seems to me a frisson of excitement and almost the desire to be “counted.” I know that sounds weird, but the truth is, the vast, vast, vast majority of students and schools will never encounter a gunman. But if you have a drill like this, it’s almost like saying, “Well that may be true, but don’t count us out.” It feels like one part precaution, one part hysteria and one part, “We’re part of the big story of the day.”

I don’t mean to ascribe any evil motives. It feels very human. But going overboard is human, too. — L.

66 Responses to Suburban Chicago School’s “Code Red” Drill Will Include Shooting Blanks

  1. Fear less January 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    This contrasted with the lego gun incident is quite ironic.

  2. Emily January 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Let me count the levels of crazy here:

    1. Earlier today, there was an article about a five-year-old boy who got threatened with suspension for making a PRETEND (and not very realistic) gun with his fingers, and with Lego blocks.

    2. The school says that they’ll have counsellors on hand, “to help students who are shaken by the gunfire,” that the school officials are condoning…, they’re creating a potentially scary situation, and then they’re getting counsellors to help students through its aftermath.

    3. Most high school students know what gunfire sounds like, from TV ad video games.

    4. This is all being done to prepare for something that “could happen.” Well, with all of these over-the-top preparations for the “something” that “could happen,” there’s another thing that’s already happening–students are having time taken out of classes, sports, band practices, play rehearsals, student government meetings, pep rallies, field trips, and all the things that make up a positive and enriching high school experience, that I got to have, and that people before me got to have as well. So, why are people depriving kids of that now?

  3. Warren January 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    What in the blue hell are they thinking? I could see if the school was teaching Marines or Seals, ya get them comfortable with gunfire.

    These are not Marines or Seals, they are kids and students. Even more alarming is the cop that thinks this is needed. It is going downhill fast.

    I would be keeping my kids home, just out of principle.

  4. FR Mama January 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    As someone familiar with this school and community (and an avid free-range parent myself who in general loves this blog), I can tell you that while I personally would not have chosen this course of action as a school administrator, I know enough about the character and leadership of those who made this decision to say, without any doubt, there is absolutely nothing “attention-mongering” about them. In fact, had they known this would garner as much public attention as it has, I’m sure they never would have proceeded with it. While I do not personally feel their implementation of simulated gunfire will be helpful in “preparing” anyone for a school shooting tragedy, I don’t feel it’s at all necessary or called for to disparage them as human beings and draw the conclusion that their lockdown practice comes from some place of sick enjoyment. However misplaced or hysterical you feel their actions are, implying that it comes from a place other than concern for school/student safety isn’t fair or in this case, consistent with their character.

    As per the fire drill analogy, the vast, vast, vast majority of students will never be evacuated from a school due to a real fire; instances of fire in schools are rare. Does that mean we should not prepare for the rare case that it may happen? Additionally, schools do sound the fire alarm during fire drills, the auditory clue that danger is imminent, so they can take the appropriate course of action. Is a gunshot, as there is no “shooter alarm”, any different? Just a little devil advocating here; again, I personally disagree with the school’s plan for simulated gunshots, but I see where they are coming from.

    In general I agree with you on most topics, Lenore, but in this case your assessment of these people’s character is way off. Out of respect for them, I felt compelled to comment.

  5. Donna January 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Oh good god. Has everyone lost their minds? This is the most ridiculous, ill-thoughtout worst idea I’ve heard in probably my whole life. If my child was a student at this school, she’d take the day off

    And there is nothing in common between a fire ALARM and SHOOTING down a hallway. This is more like setting the gym on fire during a fire drill.

  6. ifsogirl January 29, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    My schools never sounded the full fire alarm when we did drills, neither do my children’s school. First off it was announced at the begining of the day that there would be a drill so teachers and students would be prepared. Then they would let the alarm ring a short burst if at all as an auditory clue, most of the time it would be an announcment over the PA system.

    No one said anything about not having drills, but considering they are assuming some students may need councilling after because of the truama of hearing a gun fired, perhaps they should have re-thought this choice. Having to spend the money to bring in extra councilors also seems to be not so well thought out. Schools are always talking about how they have tight budgets but they can spend on counciling that would be unnecessary if they found another way to do the drill.

    There are many things schools do drills for, fire, earthquake, in some places tornado drills are the norm. In none of these does anyone try for a sense of realism.

  7. Kim Z. January 29, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

    Suburban Chicago right? Not like in the middle of urban concrete jungle gang against gang high school?
    Seriously people need to just give their head a shake!

  8. Donald January 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    I knew the fear hysteria was getting out of hand. I just didn’t know how far.

    I have spent a few years studying how the brain works and how we process thought.

    Input comes from our senses. (see, hear, feel, etc….) It then goes to the thalmus. The thalmus is sort of a gate valve that works on stress. It decides where to send our thought for further processing. It can take the short path and BYPASS RATIONAL THOUGHT. If we feel fear, it may be life or death and we don’t have time to take the long path.

    We we sense fear, we have the choice of two paths to process our thoughts.

    Path 1
    Amygdala, Hypothalmus (bypass rational thinking)

    Path 2
    Sensory cortex, Hippocampus, Amygdala, Hypothalmus

    We are hardwired this way. This has served us well for thousands of years. However it’s not working so well anymore. That’s because in the last 50 years, the human race ‘stress trigger’ has become so sensitive that it’s dangerous.

    I’ll compare it to a gun. A gun may have a trigger that takes 2 lbs of pressure to pull the trigger. Now imagine this trigger modified with a file so that it take only 2 ounces to pull the trigger. THAT’S DANGEROUS!

    Some people are actually LOSING their ability to think rationally because their ‘stress trigger’ has become so sensitive.

    I usually like to be proved right but not this time. I wish the ‘code red’ drill was only a bad dream

    Please see my drawing of this

  9. Kim Z. January 29, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    Did you read their NEW Vistor Check in procedure??
    You are required to show Govn’t issue ID to sign-in that they will HOLD until the end of your stay. How on earth is that about safety?????
    This school has some serious issues.

  10. Uly January 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    So if there IS a crazed gunman shooting ACTUAL bullets, the kids will be inured to the sound and assume it is simply another stupid drill?

  11. Donald January 29, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    More stuff on fear

  12. Laura S. January 29, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Well, we have earthquake drills here in CA and no one makes the earth quake. They don’t even try to shake the buildings. It’s simple not necessary just as gunshots aren’t.

  13. Donald January 30, 2013 at 12:25 am #


    What do the Lego gun and code red drill have in common?


    They both make it LOOK like people are trying to prevent harm.

    Whether they actually do prevent harm or cause more harm than good is irrelevant. Some people HAVE to try something, ANYTHING. Even if it’s preposterous.

    By the way, these people have lost touch of what is preposterous.

  14. Chris V January 30, 2013 at 2:02 am #

    Uly, EXACTLY! I went to Catholic and private schools, and various after-school activities, and to this day my first thought upon hearing a fire alarm is: “probably a drill.” I homeschool my kids and we certainly talk about what to do in the event of a fire, where precisely to go, etc, but do not actually act it out. In my opinion, all that fire drills accomplish is to teach people to ignore the alarms meant to keep them safe.

  15. hineata January 30, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    @Laura S. and Lenore – really, though, you are missing the possibilities here for genuine excitement…..Why not a flame thrower in the hallway during fire drills? And wouldn’t it be so cool to run a Mack truck into the side of the school building to simulate an earthquake?

    Really, the opportunities are endless. We could run jet engines in the playground to demonstrate high winds, hire the local chapter of the Mongrel Mob to run screaming through the school swinging metal bars and chains (to simulate Zombie invasions, of course), breach dams to simulate tsunamis…

    On second thought, that last one might actually BE dangerous :-).

  16. don January 30, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    Here is a novel idea, students will have the following drills today:
    Multiplication tables to learn their math.
    Spelling word drills so they learn to spell better when they tweet.
    Teachers will give students numbers so they know what they look like and will have time to teach what these numbers mean.
    Teachers will give students books and explain how to use them. Students will practice (drill) opening their books and reading them.
    How novel!

  17. Suzanne January 30, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    I agree with Lenore that there is a part of this, whether the administration realizes it is part of the motivation or not, that comes from wanting to be a part of the drama. FR Mama, I’m sorry but I fully believe that’s true. There is no reason to use gunfire as the kick off for this drill. I also think that using gunfire in this way desensitizes the students so that should they ever have a real situation at the school (I know it’s unlikely) they may take longer to react, making the assumption that it’s another drill. These drills are more akin to the duck and cover drills of the 1950’s than a fire drill and they certainly never felt obligated to make a bomb noise to kick off the duck and cover drill.

  18. lollipoplover January 30, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    And next week, they will run a Tsunami drill and release 10 feet of water into the hallways to familiarize them with the sound of flooding waters!

  19. Nicole January 30, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Isn’t he whole point of a “drill” to practice safety procedures in a NON-scary setting? I would seriously consider keeping my child home that day in protest.

  20. Susan2 January 30, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    As my kids would say, “What the bleep?”

    My kids go to urban schools, and they do have lock down drills as well as “lock out” drills. (Lock out drills are when all the entrances to the school are locked and no one is allowed in or out.) There are occasionally real lock outs when there is a police chase/search/incident in the neighborhood. Kids can get frightened, and the teachers do their best to make things seem as normal as possible during these REAL incidents. Making kids more scared by simulating gun fire seems nonsensical.

  21. zozimus January 30, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Caught in the American echo chamber of guns being an answer to guns. This is worse than just stupid; it actively contributes to the normalising of something that is so obviously NOT NORMAL to the rest of the world that we can’t even relate to you anymore, America. It’s like you live in some alternate reality. I really hope you get it together soon, before too many of us start listening to your echo chamber too.

  22. lollipoplover January 30, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    If this were a rational Principal, he would run a CODE THUNDER drill.
    Have teachers clang together garbage can lids in the hallways to warn children about the dangers of lightning storms. Kaboom! Take cover!
    They are more likely to get struck by lightning than to be killed in a random mass shooting.

    Stop talking about guns in schools. Your puting these ideas in these kids heads and it’s so wrong.

  23. Kelly January 30, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Eih. I probably wouldn’t do it. I’ve already commented about there being way too many different types of drills. It seems better to just have “Stay inside” emergencies and “Go Outside” emergencies. The teacher can know the subtle differences.

    That being said. They do this type of thing a lot. We had drug/drinking awareness events where popular kids would be missing from class and their mom would come in and put a black cloth and a rose on their desk to make everyone realize “how different things would be if classmates died.” I don’t think they realized that only picking the popular kids didn’t do much for most people but eih. They also simulated a car crash with real cars scrunched up on the road, tossed 2 volunteer kids in jail for a night and video taped them then used a helicopter to evac the kids out of the vehicle. Again, way overkill and I’m not sure it reached anyone but using fake gunfire in a school is hardly the first crazy school stunt.

    We did however at work have a real fire that we got to use real extinguishers on for training this year and it was much more interesting than the fake video game fire we normally get to put out. So there’s something to be said for people paying more attention when they spice it up a bit.

  24. JR January 30, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    I live in the area where this will be taking place. There will not be a “real” gun used in this drill. They will fire two blanks from the track meet starting gun. There will be police presence to conduct the drill. Also, this drill is not in response to the recent wave of shootings in schools and public places. This lockdown drill was being planned way in advance. Planning started in the late summer and fall. I commend the educators for taking steps to ensure tthe safety of our children. While I agree that there could be much debate and pros and cons to using the “gunfire”, I think it can be justified. Not only will students get announcements that the lockdown is happening, but they will also get an announcement that the blanks will be shot just before it happens.

    I think it is important that ANYONE know how to handle themselves in a situation like that. Fortunately, I have never heard gunfire in person. But also UNfortunately, I will not know for sure if that is what I’m hearing should I ever be in a situation where it occurs unless I’m seeing it. With the constant threats to humanity by individuals that don’t know how to resolve conflict or have no thoughts of regard for other human beings, it should be a sound everyone knows. With this being done in school with non-live fire, this is one of the most controlled environments you could do it in. I hate to think that this is what the world is coming to. But awareness and education are key and that is all this school is trying to do. They are not doing it for publicity and in fact didn’t even know it would garner this much attention. They are simply trying to prepare individuals for what has become and epidemic in today’s society.

  25. RobynHeud January 30, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    I was in the Navy for six years and we had regular drills with different alarm sounds. I couldn’t get out of bed to save my life when my own alarm went off, but the moment I heard that GQ alarm go off, I was out of bed and pulling my clothes on as I ran to my station. We had different alarms for collisions and for man overboard. All of these things were real risks from being on board a ship, and we practiced them all of the time. I’m not saying I like the idea of having an “insane shooter” drill, especially considering the rarity of the situation, but I agree with a previous poster, that perhaps having different alarms that tell you whether to hunker down or get outside would be appropriate. I grew up in Michigan, and we technically had those in the form of tornado drills and fire drills. Only one real tornado alarm, and looking back, I’m grateful that my teachers knew what to do and were calm and collected.

  26. sarahbee January 30, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    @JR: Rampage shootings in schools is not an “epidemic in today’s society”. Despite the recent uptick in number of incidents, it is still *incredibly* rare. Please do not present fear-mongering as fact. The truth is, while WAY too many children die each year from gun violence in the US, very, very few die in our schools. Statistically, school remains the safest place for a child to be during the day.

    If there is one thing readers should take away from this blog, it’s that parents and guardians have an obligation to balance the truth about the dangers our children face with the sacrifices we are often too quick to make in an effort to ensure our kids safety. Unfortunately, time and time again we see that people like you and, more importantly, school administrators fail to take a few minutes to look at the reality of the situation before coming to wildly unfactual conclusions about the safety of children. And these disproportionate perceptions of danger lead to measures that have real and meaningful implications for the quality of life and well-being of our children.

  27. Ann January 30, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    That makes me sick. I’ve lived 42 years without ever hearing gun shots with the exception of the riflry range at summer camp. I hope the same for my children. This is doing nothing except giving all those children nightmares for weeks.

  28. lollipoplover January 30, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    “With the constant threats to humanity by individuals that don’t know how to resolve conflict or have no thoughts of regard for other human beings, it should be a sound everyone knows.”

    What constant threat/epidemic are you talking about? The only epidemic in schools now is severe overreaction.

  29. JR January 30, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    @Sarahbee. I wasn’t stating school shootings are an epidemic. I was stating that gun violence to groups of people (movie theaters, malls, workplaces, schools included) seems to be becoming an epidemic. Too many incidents of innocent people in public settings are occuring for society to not be taking action.

  30. Christine January 30, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Just saying, but wouldn’t this go against all the “zero-tolerance” gun laws. Seems to send a mixed message to me that kids are being suspended for making finger guns, but adults are allowed to shoot them in the school.

  31. JR January 30, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    @lollipoplover: Again I wasn’t specifying school violence is becoming an epidemic in itself. I must not have made that clear. I was alluding to gun violence in general of incidents where numerous innocent people are affected.

    I bet in a real fire, students would be able to react calmly after learning how to react during drills. I know I wouldn’t be rushing for the door but quickly make my way out. This is the same logic being used for this drill. The students at this school by and large support it and faculty and staff have taken the students’ and parents’ views on this very seriously. It isn’t being done without regard from community input. If the students want this type of drill and the parents are also comfortable with it, why shouldn’t it hapen.? Isn’t school about education? Granted they won’t be learning Shakespeare or Trig through this drill, but they are learning a life skill that could one day literally safe their live. These students are learning how to face their fears by gaining knowledge of what fears them. Without student, parent, and community support, NO this drill should not happen. But this school does have the support of the vast majority of the individuals in which this effects.

  32. JR January 30, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    I also wanted to add that those parents and/or students that did not want to be involved in today’s drill did have the option of staying home or going to school late after third period when the drill would be taking place. This was not a forced or surprise drill. Also that the faculty and staff have already participated in the same type of drill with the simulated gunfire on in-service days where no students are present. This is nothing new for them and so they will be able to appropriately speak about the matter. And also again, nothing will be a surprise to the students. It is being done in an extremely controlled way. They will announce the beginning of the drill, announce that the “gunfire” will take place, and announce when the drill is over. It will be a guided drill through every step.

  33. Warren January 30, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Let’s hope any would be school shooter has the same courteousy, by announcing the gunfire before he opens up. Let’s also hope that the shooter uses a starter pistol.

    I hate to burst the safety patrols bubble, but here goes.
    1. Two blank rounds from a starter pistol, will not come close to anything other than maybe a .22. But certainly not any of the preferred weapons of shooters.

    2. I do not know where the so called experts get there opinions, but I have never known the sound of gunfire to scare the masses. It is the screaming, and seeing people wounded that usually starts the panic.
    3. All this drill is going to do, is put the students in hyperdrive, and send them into panic at sound of a lawnmower backfire.

    This school has it all wrong. The children do not need a dose of reality, the administrators need a dose of reality.

  34. mollie January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    JR, it sounds to me like you really value responsibility, and that this school’s strategy of firing blanks to simulate the sound of actual gunfire as part of a lockdown drill reflects the value of responsibility for you, since your interpretation of the world includes “that gun violence to groups of people… seems to be becoming an epidemic.”

    I value responsibility as well, I’m pretty sure we all do. I think where the conflict arises is how we each would put “responsibility” into action when it comes to preparing kids for the possibility that they will encounter “violent” individuals with guns.

    My own sense is that trying to prepare for the possibility of a shooter with an automatic weapon or two or four barging into a school and shooting people is akin to preparing for the possibility of a suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with explosives into the building. People are going to die in either case, most likely, and it’s all going to happen so fast, and with such force, that trying to mitigate the carnage, using the front part of the brain, won’t be possible.

    So. What would responsibility look like for me? Hm. Something like a previous poster mentioned: two types of drills, one for “stay in the building” and one for “get out of the building.”

  35. Donna January 30, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    JR – Now that you’ve described it, I see far LESS rational for shooting blanks (and I thought it completely and absolutely idiotic before). There is no need for this except to create drama. Announcing that you are firing shots and then firing a starting pistol is supposed to do what exactly? I guess it is closer to the sound of a semi-automatic weapon than say banging pots and pans together but why do the kids need that?

  36. mollie January 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Suddenly, I’m thinking that if they really want to condition a certain action with a certain sound, shrill screaming would be more effective in this case.

  37. lollipoplover January 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    These gunfire drills are about as relevant to real safety as “Duck and Cover” drills were during the Cold War. You know, when we lived in fear that communism and nuclear attacks were always a possibility, even though they weren’t. Haven’t we learned from history about spreading paranoia yet?

  38. CrazyCatLady January 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    I heard gun shots on a weekly basis each spring during high school. I was on the track team and they used a starter gun that the coach kept with him in his classroom when not on the track.

  39. Todd Kuipers January 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I quite liked the take on this stunt at Popehat:

    well worth a read.

  40. Linvo January 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    ” Together, we can keep our school a safe place for our children to grow and learn”

    Because if only the schools that were subjected to shootings had done a drill like this, those kids would still be alive?

  41. Christine January 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    This is absurd. I taught in a school that had a drill like this. They played sounds of gunshots, people screaming, and crying over the PA system while “armed” gunmen ran through the halls shooting blanks. This took place on a teacher workday with no students in the building. As a special ed teacher, I did not have an actual classroom so when the shooting started I ran to the nearest one. There were four adults hiding in that room and I will tell you this, even though we knew it was completely fake and completely safe I have never been so scared in my entire life. When one of the men tried to get into the room we all screamed and couldn’t stop. I would like to think it was the hormones (I was pregnant at the time) but I couldn’t stop crying. This drill went on for several hours. Fortunately they took a break in the middle and I took the opportunity to leave for an OB appointment.

    My point is this, four grown women who knew this was a drill and knew that it was important for our police department to be able to practice manuevers were scared out of our minds. I cannot imagine what this will do to the kids. Somehow I think this is worse than whatever alternative the powers that be think it will prevent.

  42. mollie January 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    “Somehow I think this is worse than whatever alternative the powers that be think it will prevent.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we rush to a strategy in the name of something we value (safety, well-being) and it turns out our strategy catapults us in the opposite direction. Then, sometimes, we justify: “But this is the only way.”


  43. Stafir January 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    As silly as this sounds..if they want people to feel safe around guns/get used to em, they could do what the elementary school I went for did for its..I think it was 6’th graders.

    We actually, in class, were shown guns, taught about em, learned safety, how to aim, how to fire ,the basic parts, etc.

    And then after they were sure of us and how we felt, there came a part where everybody who wanted to (and yes it was if you wanted to..I know this because I chose to not partake in that part of the training that day), was allowed to actually fire a live gun, at a target. Under the supervision of the teacher who taught how to use the guns in the first place.

    But got me used to the sound of a gun..without the situation feeling threatening..just another part of class (learning how to use a rather dangerous tool). I honestly put it around the same area as the old shop class with real tools.

  44. SusanOR January 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    I have a college friend from this town & he had this to say: “My daughter’s school. How embarrassing.”

    Can’t say anything more than that….

  45. Mark January 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    @FR Mama: I don’t know about you, but I was evacuated from schools twice due to actual fires: once when the cafeteria kitchen caught fire (total damage: one oven destroyed, one wall and ceiling damaged), and once when somebody got careless in shop class and set a pile of wood shavings on fire with a drill press (total damage: heat and smoke marks on the drill press). Major school-destroying fires are rare, but minor ones that set off the alarm system aren’t.

  46. Dave January 31, 2013 at 3:09 am #

    This is an unnecessary drill. My last year in HS the building actually did catch fire. We had had so many fire drills that when the alarm did c go off many thought it was just a drill and did not heed the alarm. Instead of reacting to the alarm they reacted to what they thought was just a drill and moved slowly from the building. They are unnecessarily scaring the children. The teachers need to have a plan but the sound of gun fire does not aid the exercise.

  47. Donna January 31, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    Early in the morning on New Years the fire alarm went off in the hotel we were staying in in Wellington. I debated for a long while whether I really needed to wake my child up and trudge down many steps or could just blow the thing off as a likely false alarm. Eventually the alarm annoyed me enough to get up and out. Of course, it was a false alarm. I assume someone drunkenly pulled the alarm.

    We are too desensitized to alarms. We don’t react well to them any more.

  48. Taradlion January 31, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    I understand that this is done in a school with older kids, but IF it were the only way to be prepared for this unlikely event, my guess is that it will trickle down to elementary schools. At that point what are they going to do when the kindergarten kids start making Lego and finger guns. When kids play “crazed shooter and SWAT” instead of cops and robbers? Kids work through fears through play, you put fear in their head they need to work through it.

    I didn’t give my son toy guns because I knew that I toy gun would only be used for playing shooting games. If he ate a piece of toast into a gun shape or made a Lego gun, I didn’t make a big deal. I didn’t encourage gun play, but I didn’t forbid it. He was mostly into Batman and was a Batman villain for several years straight for Halloween (complete with umbrella when he was the penguin). Play with action figures is all about good and evil and working through the idea of “bad guys”.

    Parents seem not to react the same way to light sabers, knight swords and shields, super villan “blasters” because they are so obviously pretend. Some can’t separate the gun PLAY (which for kids is just as pretend) because it seems too real.

  49. Selby January 31, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    This is the drill tactic I want practiced in my school: shooter in the school, we are in our classroom. Let us NOT pen ourselves up in a closet like lambs to the slaughter, but get out the window and RUN!!!! And if that’s not an option, everyone grab a heavy book, chair, blunt object, handful of thumbtacks and should madman breach the door, LET HIM HAVE IT!!!! Aim for his head and if you’re holding the bottle of liquid soap, go for his eyes.

    Oh wait, they took away the liquid soap because they didn’t trust you to not eat it. Pity.

  50. A Dad January 31, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    My children’s elementary school had an actual fire evacuation last year. The A/C unit overheated and created noxious fumes.
    The principle announced over the PA that the fire alarm would be sounding and that ‘This is not a drill’. (The fire alarm was to provide the notification to the fire department – not sure why a phone call to 911 wouldn’t do the same)
    Anyway, all the teachers and students calmly and quietly evacuated to their rally points.
    Nobody hurt. Nobody lost.

  51. EricS January 31, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Again, fear and paranoia equals lack of common sense and logic. Making people do and think the “dumbest” things. This MAY help children prepare for the extremely remote chance their school gets attacked by a gunman, but mostly it instills more fear in them. It’s like telling children there is no such thing as the boogeyman in your closet. But then you jump out of the closet one night with Freddy Kruger mask scaring the bejesus out of them. Telling them it was for their own good to over come their fear. There are other, more practical and effective ways to prepare our children for contingencies of life, without instilling fear in them. And much of it, starts at home. And no, letting them bring a gun to school IS NOT an option.

  52. K January 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    It was not a big deal everyone was locked in their classrooms and police officers entered the building. The principal went on the intercom and announced that one blank from a track race starter gun will be shot off by the gym. Then he made a second announcement and said the second blank will be shot by the c hallway courtyard. That’s it, no surprises. The halls were empty and it was practice for both the school and the police department to know what to do if the situation actually happened. Not many people have heard a gunshot in real life nevertheless in a building. It was a good idea because inside the sound travels and echoes, I didn’t know that before. They also gave useful information about where to go for different locations if this actually happened. Plus it taught us that if we hear a sound like that to not go curiously towards it in investigation but to run the other way. Very informative.

  53. Warren January 31, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    Yes K, very informative if someone attacks the school with a starter’s pistol.

    I am quite familiar with firearms, and of all the weapons used the only thing that sounds remotely similiar to a starter’s pistol, is a starter’s pistol.

    If the police want to practise in the school……… it on Sunday when the damn thing is empty.

    This did nothing more than to firm up the kids beliefs that they are in danger. As well as to now create a lockdown everytime a car or lawnmower backfires near the school.

    K, you cannot justify this drill to me, no matter what you say. Or how peacefully it was carried out.

    Kids do not need to see a police tactical team running drills in the halls of the school. That is just insane.

  54. K January 31, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Your entitled to your own opinion but the fact is we saw nothing and have had real gun threats and fears before this drill took place.

  55. Ryan February 1, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Both sides have blown this out of proportion. It sounds like a lot of people have never heard real gunfire before. As an avid shooter, I’ve certainly gotten used to it, but there’s nothing “scary” about the sound itself, it’s a loud bang, no scarier than dropping a book on the floor. The only thing scary is the surprise factor, just the same as someone yelling “boo”. The fact that they would even insinuate the need for counseling the kids because they heard a gunshot is ridiculous. My kids have been to the shooting range with me, and weren’t scared by the sound. It’s the fear of the drill itself, and what it implies, that you aren’t safe, that will harm the kids. So the school planning the drill is ridiculous in their precaution, as is the worry over shooting off a couple of blanks. No reason to do the drill, but no reason to keep your kids home either!

    On the point of pointless drills, I happened to be California on the day of a statewide earthquake drill where we all evacuated the building, stood around, then went back in. That very same afternoon there was an actual earthquate that shook the whole building side to side (twice), and no one even said a word. Not one person stopped working or even suggested leaving the building!

  56. Warren February 1, 2013 at 3:58 pm #


    Yes there was a reason to keep you kids home, for that drill in the Chicago area. Not because of a starter’s pistol, but because the kids do not need to take part in a lockdown/tactical drill. In all honesty, lockdowns themselves in my opinion are useless, and actually counterproductive.

    The kids do not need to see police in full tactical gear running drills in the halls of the school.

    That just informs the kids that being at school is a life threatening activity. Woohooo, let’s just rob our kids of even more of their childhood.

    As for earthquake drills, yes of course, if your school is on an active fault line, then run them. Check your math on occurance and probabilities. Earthquake for a Calif. school VS. a school shooter in Chicago suburbia.

  57. Warren February 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    And anyone else that supports these kind of drills. In my opinion you are just as guilty as the media and overprotective parents for fear mongering. Having tactical units in schools, running drills is not the message or tone we want our kids to have.

    Do not give me the crap about this being a sign of the times. It is only a sign of the times because weak minded adults give into their fears. And our kids are the ones paying for it.

  58. K February 1, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    We aren’t paying for the adults fears. My friends and I were a little nervous when a fellow classmate threatened to bring a gun to school. I and most of my classmates agree that are principle did this drill because he wants to keep us safe and we feel better knowing that he cares. The drill wasn’t scary at all, just saying.

  59. Warren February 1, 2013 at 11:42 pm #


    I am glad you feel better. But it is very sad, that fears have been made part of your life, that something like this would make you feel better.

  60. Munkle February 2, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Chicago means Obama ordered it as part of his hysteria campaign to take away our guns.

  61. buffy February 2, 2013 at 2:01 am #

    I must be overly cranky right now, but all I can think of reading the posts by “K” is that that school should concentrate more on education, and less on drills.

  62. Warren February 2, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Just had coffee this morning with a buddy, of mine. He has over 20 years on the Ontario Provincial Police, and as a parent of 3.

    We talked about this article, and the drill. His take on it,

    1. To be an accurate drill, it had to have been whatever tactical team the police use.
    2. Any tactical exercise should not be carried out, in the presence of civilians, even more so not around minors.
    3. That the sound of gunfire, even full auto gunfire does not provoke the panic response. It is the sight of victims falling, the screams, and the carnage that triggers the panic response.
    4. Keeping the kids, in lockdown, until a police tactical team can respond, will cost lives, in real life.
    5. Lockdowns are a useless safety procedure. Controlled evacuation is the only way to go.
    6. Lockdowns are for prisons. Not to protect the prisoners, to protect the staff. So in a school shooting event, a lockdown does not benefit the students, it benefits the shooter.

    He told me that he and other officers are trying to get the OPP to tell schools to come up with evacuations instead of lockdowns.

  63. Library Diva February 2, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Interesting comments on this. I agree with those who say that too many of these drills will desensitize people. I saw it firsthand. Growing up, my state mandated regular fire drills. I feel like they happened all the time looking back, but in reality, they were probably only slated for a few times a year. We never knew when the drills would be, but we talked about the concept of them all the time. Right through high school, the “where we go when there’s a fire drill” talk was a standard feature of the first week of all classes. The alarm was set off and occasionally, they’d place a cardboard cut-out fire in front of an entrance, just to keep things interesting.

    I went to a state college, which meant that most of my fellow students had grown up the same way. I was in the library one day and the fire alarm went off. I got my stuff and got out. I was virtually the only one. Everyone else just ignored it. I’ve seen the same in other places with the fire alarm — everyone assumes it’s malfunctioning or that there’s no real danger. I think overdrilling just desensitizes people (although it would help if they could make alarms that didn’t go off when you’re preheating the oven for dinner!)

  64. mollie February 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Drills worked really well for Jim Jones. Everyone drank the kool-aid, right on cue.

    I love the comment above that lockdown drills benefit the shooter more than the students. I had an intuitive sense of that being true, and again, wonder how willing people in power are to reexamine their strategies to see if they are actually supporting safety and well-being.

  65. Warren February 3, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    Let’s face it, in the event of a repeat of Sandy Hook.

    He blew thru locked doors. During a lockdown, say 30 kids in a class, all locked in their class. He gets in, and they have nowhere to go.

    Perverbial fish in a barrel.

    Reminds me of when I went to work in an industrial paint plant. Multiple paint booths along a moving assembly line.
    In the event of a fire the policy was to find a fire alarm pull station, pull the alarm, then exit the building.

    I asked if the pull stations were by the emergency exits, and was told no they were not. My answer was ” Don’t expect me to pull one then. If it isn’t right by the door, I ain’t going looking for it.”

    I don’t care if it is fire or shooter, get the hell out of the building.

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