U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (CO) and Stephanie Murphy (FL) announced the approval, by the powerful House Appropriations Committee, of $1 million for independent experts to publish a study on the potential mental health effects of active shooter drills in elementary and secondary schools.

Under the Perlmutter-Murphy initiative, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine would use the congressional funding to examine the possible emotional and behavioral effects on students and staff of active shooter drills, lockdown drills and other firearm violence prevention activities in K-12 schools. Their report would identify best practices that can be adopted to minimize the negative impacts. The Perlmutter-Murphy provision was approved by the House Appropriations Committee as part of the bill providing funding for the U.S Department of Education.      

“Colorado has had more than its fair share of active shooter and school shooting tragedies, leaving many students traumatized and frightened. We must ensure school safety drills don’t trigger these anxieties and instead give students the knowledge to respond appropriately to threatening situations and potentially help save lives,” said Perlmutter. “This research will help inform school administrators as they balance school preparedness with the mental health of students and staff.”

“As a mom with two young children, I’ve had to talk with them about the traumatic experience of an active shooter drill at their school and answer many heartbreaking questions, including why a drill was even needed in the first place,” said Murphy. “The Parkland shooting in Florida tragically reminded us of the importance of student and staff preparedness. As states put in place plans to ensure students can safely return to the classroom once this pandemic subsides, we must also give school administrators the tools they need to most effectively conduct active shooter drills. This expert study will help us protect students from the physical threat of school shootings without causing lasting psychological trauma in the process.”