Although they account for only 0.2 percent of the approximately 36,000 annual gun deaths in the United States, school shootings have traumatized the nation and driven much of the gun violence debate. While the public has demanded action from lawmakers to protect students, school districts have too often resorted to measures that offer the appearance of decisiveness, but do little to increase safety. In fact, they may be doing considerable harm.
Soon after the shooting at Columbine High School in April 1999, schools began implementing active shooter drills. Soon, districts across the country followed suit. By the 2005-06 school year, 40 percent of public schools drilled students on lockdown procedures. By the 2015-16 school year – three years after the Sandy Hook shooting – that number had skyrocketed to 95 percent. In the 2017-18 school year, more than 4.1 million students endured at least one lockdown.