Don O’Neill ‘grateful’ preschoolers put through active shooter drills

Jun 22, 2016, 10:25 AM

There’s no age limit on the threat of active shooters. And while some parents are mortified at children needing to concern themselves with mass shooting preparation, KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill says he’s “grateful” for the practice his son received at school.

Related: Club owners, bouncers attend active-shooter training ahead of Seattle Pride weekend

A photo of a 3-year-old Michigan girl standing on a toilet recently went viral after the girl’s mother explained the child’s rationale. After initially thinking her mischievous daughter was goofing around, the mother broke down after realizing the child was practicing the lockdown drill for being trapped in a bathroom, as taught to her at preschool.

O’Neill said he was contacted by his son’s preschool in 2014 about putting the kids through an active shooter exercise. And he thought the idea was “ridiculous.”

That is until he watched what they did.

“What they do is very effective,” O’Neill said. “And I will tell you this, there is nothing wrong with being a moving target, because if you’ve ever been to a range somewhere, moving targets are really hard to hit. And I think that can be better than to barricade yourself somewhere.”

It was about three months later when O’Neill received a phone notification that his son’s school was locked down because of an active shooter at Seattle Pacific University. One person was killed and two were injured during that shooting.

“That was five buildings away from where my son was going to school at the time,” O’Neill said. “I was so grateful at that time because they didn’t know if he was in custody or not, I was so grateful that they’d actually gone through that exercise.”

O’Neill said he understood how the Michigan mother would be upset at seeing her daughter practicing for a shooter instead of playing, and that these important lessons should be taught carefully.

“I would be alarmed if you’re the mother and they’re explaining to a 3-year-old child about an active shooter,” O’Neill said. “I remember when I was very young and we would do earthquake and tornado drills, etc. Your teachers would let you know as much as you needed to know and then as you got older in the first, second and third grade, you figure out what you were doing when younger. You don’t need to give kids that much information.”

Ron and Don

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Don O’Neill ‘grateful’ preschoolers put through active shooter drills