MD bill may require advance notice of shooting drills


Graphic by Kenneth Shue

The proposed bill aims to bridge the communication gap before a shooter drill.

A new proposed bill may bring new changes to the way MCPS handles active assailant drills. Maryland delegate Jared Solomon, along with other lawmakers, is proposing the addition of better communication among parents, teachers and students before active shooter drills. 

Currently, MCPS requires the simulation of six different drills, in accordance with the Safe to Learn Act of 2018, and strongly recommends doing an active assailant drill, or a lockdown with options.

Solomon and his sponsors have presented this bill in order for the county and the Board of Education to understand the effects of such drills on the mental health of students and act accordingly. The bill would ensure that MCPS is analyzing the potential consequences of participating in active assailant drills, assessing the necessity for such drills and communicating with key parties before the drill takes place. 

“I think the law being passed is definitely a good thing because if parents don’t know and the kids are suddenly texting, ‘Active assailant. We don’t know if it’s a drill or not,’ the parents are going to freak out,” freshman Cal Murphy said.

The main goal of Solomon’s bill is to address the communication gap before a drill. In an article by WBAL-TV, Solomon said,“There is a way [for parents] to have that conversation in an age-appropriate way to say we are going to make sure that we can all be safe today.”

Solomon’s proposition would also include prohibiting live simulations that include gunfire and blood because of the trauma it causes for participants. 

Freshman Samriddhi Agrawal had unpleasant experiences with MCPS procedures during such drills. “In drills they bang the doors shut, start screaming and put torchlights in the windows,” Agrawal said.

Additionally, many MCPS students rallied and protested with Solomon in Annapolis to support the enactment of several gun safety laws. “You have to be prepared for [active assailant situations], but it’s also not [okay] that our nation is so plagued by gun violence that we have to train for that,” student Ava Ginsberg told WBAL-TV.

Parents in the community have also spoken out in support of the bill. Jan Donahoe McNamara, a mother of MCPS students and volunteer with Moms Demand Action, experienced the death of a family member due to a mass shooting.  “I’m grateful that the administration gave my husband and me the chance to decide how to proceed,” McNamara said to a legislative board.

RM students overall favor the passing of Solomon’s legislation, and think that the drills are necessary but should be conducted in a better way. 

I think having actual drills and practicing that kind of behavior and patterns is really important because you would rather have [students] practice drills than have an actual active assailant come in and they have no idea what to do,” Murphy said.

[The law is] also necessary because some people aren’t taking [the issue] seriously,” Agrawal said.

The bill has currently passed its first reading and is awaiting a referral to committee. If passed, the law is set to go into effect on July 1.