No Weapons

Sometimes we wonder if we’re getting through to younger generations when it comes to common sense.

This week, The Learning Channel has been sharing each of the ten essay winners of their Fourth Annual Editorial Contest and man, did today’s posted winner show that there’s hope for them yet!

15-year-old Daina Kalnina’s winning essay, ‘Stopping Bullets With Locked Doors and Silence Is Already Pulling the Trigger’, knocks out the active school shooter protocol “run, hide, fight”. Kalnina not only shared what it’s like to be a student in today’s schools but gave insight into why she feels students should, and could, do more to stop an active threat.

It has become very familiar for high-school students to practice the infamous level-three lockdown. In all cases, we all share the semi-nervous chuckle of “wow, maybe we get Swiss-cheesed today” and sit in a corner, stare at our phones and text our friends. Only very recently, after a vivid dream — moreover a nightmare — of a school shooting, did I realize that sitting in the dark and stopping bullets with locked doors and silence is the exact opposite of what one would want to do. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the fact that the “people shot and killed in the Columbine library sat there for five minutes before the shooters entered and shot them.” My school is full of able-bodied kids, and surprisingly, a great chunk that has had experience with self-defense and even marksmen training. So why sit and wait?

To say that the drills today are relevant is a mistake. They do more than just offer very little protection; they also endanger students and teachers more so than ever before. The lockdowns I’ve been taught over and over again, sitting in the dark, actually tell future active shooters exactly where we’re going to be — cornered. More so, in The New York Times article, “In Shift, Police Advise Taking an Active Role to Counter Mass Attacks,” studies conducted by law enforcement in the Virginia Tech shooting showed that “the students and teacher blocked the door with a heavy desk and held it in place, [the shooter] could not get in, and everyone lived,” compared to those that tried to “hide or play dead,” in which almost all were shot or died. It is shown more clearly here than ever by making the vital choice to barricade and move as a means of security will utilize finite time better and save lives.

Many educators and parents have questioned the authenticity and have begun to develop alternatives for active-shooter lockdowns. The ALICE project is one such adaptation. Developed by a former SWAT officer Greg Cane, ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. It provides specialized tactics for K-12 and higher education schools. Fundamentally, a moving target is harder to get an aim on than a stationary one. That same difference marks ALICE’s method from the old one; it encourages movement, distraction and most importantly, it encourages direct action from students and teachers. This significantly decreases the number of lives lost and helps me sleep a little bit better at night knowing that if the time ever comes, I’m not idly waiting to become Swiss cheese.

It’s unnerving that the students of this country must learn how to cope with active shooters.

It’s even more unnerving that current procedures say that they should sit, wait and die.

Well said, Daina! Let’s hope more students, parents, faculty, and politicians pay attention to the common sense idea that to act like a victim only serves to ultimately make you a victim.