Columbine Massacre Prompts Colorado Drill Bill

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Ten years after the deadliest high school shooting in American history, Colorado citizens on Thursday will have a chance to tell lawmakers whether or not they want their schools to conduct lockdown drills, School Safety Partners announced today.

The 1999 Columbine shooters killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounded 23 others.

The killer is not looking for a gunfight. If he wanted a gunfight he'd go to the police station and the police would oblige him. The killer is looking for a body count.

Ten years after the deadliest high school shooting in American history, Colorado citizens on Thursday will have a chance to tell lawmakers whether or not they want their schools to conduct lockdown drills, School Safety Partners announced today.

A newly introduced Colorado bill, HB09-1009, requiring schools to conduct special safety drills in addition to traditional fire drills, will go before the House Education Committee at the State Capitol in Denver on Thursday, January 22, at 1:00 p.m. The hearing is open to members of the public, including students, parents, educators, and first responders.

HB09-1009, dubbed the Drill Bill, was introduced by Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, and defines a range of school safety drills to test how well faculty, staff, and students respond to simulated intruder or active shooter incidents, bomb threats, explosions, hazardous materials release, severe weather, and other life-threatening emergencies.

According to School Safety Partners research, many school administrators oppose the new drills, saying they are too expensive, pose an unnecessary burden on staff, take away from time in the classroom, create disruption, and raise anxiety levels among students.

King, however, claims that an all-hazards approach can best address current school safety concerns in Colorado, including intrusions by outsiders and non-custodial parents, rising gang activity, building collapse, or another school shooting.

Schools currently conduct fire drills several times a year. These are essentially evacuation drills.

Under the Drill Bill, all staff and students would learn and practice additional drills, including:

  • Reverse evacuation drills - all personnel go to safe places in the building, from outdoor recess or P.E. class;
  • Lockdown drills - all personnel remain in locked classrooms;
  • Shelter-in-place drills - all personnel remain in sealed classrooms; and
  • Drop, cover, and hold drills - all personnel drop low, take cover under furniture, cover eyes and protect internal organs, and hold onto furniture legs. These are sometimes called earthquake drills, but may also be used to practice against blasts and violent attacks.

Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, an international school safety advocate well-known to Colorado law enforcement and fire fighters, supports HB09-1009. Upon reviewing the bill, he noted that increased mock practices and public awareness make Columbine-like tragedies less likely to occur. He explained why. "The killer is not looking for a gunfight. If he wanted a gunfight he'd go to the police station and the police would oblige him. The killer is looking for a body count."

Citizens wishing to testify or voice their concerns at Thursday's hearing are encouraged to come early and sign in. Copies of the Drill Bill and sample school safety drill procedures will be made available to all attendees.

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John Simmons
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