Mace, Fitzpatrick cosponsor School Safety Drill Research Act

With 95 percent of America’s K-12 schools now practicing lockdown and active shooter safety drills, U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) want to know what the subsequent mental health impacts are for students practicing such drills.

“Preparing our students, parents, and educators for a crisis or emergency is essential to school community safety,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday. “While we encourage our schools to conduct lockdown and active shooter drills, we must also consider the impacts of these effective exercises on our communities’ mental well-being.”

Toward that goal, Reps. Fitzpatrick and Mace on June 6 cosponsored the bipartisan School Safety Drill Research Act of 2023, H.R. 3872, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-CO). The bill would require the U.S. Secretary of Education to enter into an agreement with the National Academies to conduct a study on the possible mental health effects of a lockdown drill or active shooter drill in elementary and secondary schools, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to gun violence and the effect it has on our children,” Rep. Mace said. “By conducting a comprehensive study on the potential mental health impacts of lockdown or active shooter drills in schools, we can ensure that our safety measures do not inadvertently harm the emotional well-being of our children.”

If enacted, H.R. 3872 would specifically study and identify the best practices to maximize the effectiveness of school safety drills, according to a bill summary provided by the members.

The measure also would study whether to provide funding to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to examine the possible mental health effects of active shooter drills, lockdown drills, and other firearm violence prevention activities in schools on school staff and students, including younger children and children with disabilities, the summary says.

“This act will provide valuable insights that can guide the development of effective and compassionate protocols, ensuring both physical safety and mental resilience for our students,” said Rep. Mace. “We remain committed to working towards creating safer learning environments for all of our children regardless of where they live and go to school.”

H.R. 3872 has been referred to the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee for consideration.