"Active Shooter" Drill Comes Amid Debate Over School Safety

A training at a Cerritos high school coincided with a 225-page NRA task force report

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    NEWSLETTERS

    LA County Sheriff's Deputies held "active training" exercises at Gahr High School in Cerritos Tuesday, the same day the NRA made recommendations that include training school personnel to carry and use guns. Parents and faculty at the school have very differing views of what should be done to keep children safe. Hetty Chang reports from Cerritos for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 2, 2013. (Published Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013)

    On the same day that an NRA task force released recommendations for school safety, a Southern California campus was the site of a training in an "active shooter" scenario similar to the one that prompted the current conversation about guns and schools.

    The National Rifle Association task force's recommendations through its National School Shield report -- which included a program to train and enable school personnel to carry firearms -- was outlined Tuesday by Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman and ex-head of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

    The report's release came just as law enforcement and school personnel drilled at Gahr High School in Cerritos. The training scenario involved the idea of four gunman who had opened fire while 60 students were on campus.

    "What you see with law enforcement is people trying to flee the scene," said Capt. Keith Swensson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "But law enforcement is the first one to arrive and are attacking the suspects."

    Similar exercises are intended to train law enforcement to act quickly in a mass school shooting, such as the December killings at an elementary school in Newton, Conn., according to Swensson. 

    In the weeks and months since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 young children and six staff members dead, campus safety and guns have been in the spotlight nationally.

    But drills such as the one at Gahr High do not train school personnel to carry firearms in schools, which is one of the eight recommendations revealed Tuesday by Hutchinson.

    "Our stations are so close to the schools and so close to the public events that we can respond quickly and we are highly trained," said Swensson, who could not comment on the NRA report because he had not seen it yet. "Nobody is going to be as highly trained as a law enforcement official."

    In the 225-page report, which Hutchinson stressed was produced independently of the NRA, more fully articulated a divisive proposal from the association following the Newtown shooting to place armed security in every school in the country.

    "Due to the violence that has occurred lately, I think it would be a good idea," parent Dawn Trent said.

    Anise Jones, a retired school teacher, disagreed.

    "It's just more than is necessary in schools," Jones said. "You don't need to have guns on teachers in schools." 

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