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Police officer mistakenly pulls gun on students during emergency drill

Guns on school campuses makes it more likely there will be accidents that compromise students' safety.

Armed police officer on school grounds. (Photo by Getty Images)
Armed police officer on school grounds. (Photo by Getty Images)

An emergency drill at a Texas school took a serious turn when a police officer pulled his gun on two students participating in the practice run.

The high school theater students were pretending to be an armed intruder and a hostage during an active shooter drill at Clark Elementary in Baytown, Texas. In order to enact a hostage situation, one of the students was carrying a wooden replica of a gun while the elementary school students hid in their classrooms.

The officer was apparently unaware of the nature of the drill, according to local ABC affiliate KTRK, and responded to the scene after he heard the school was on “lockdown.” He briefly pointed his gun at the two students.

He then realized his mistake and lowered his weapon “almost immediately,” according to school district spokesperson Beth Dombrowa.

Clark Elementary officials sent a letter to hundreds of parents this week informing them of the mix-up.

It’s not clear why the officer didn’t know there was a drill scheduled that day. The district informs the community before emergency drills, and Dombrowa said they’ll examine their procedures to see if they can find any areas of improvement.

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The incident highlights the potential risk of introducing guns to schools — even when they’re carried by officers who are tasked with protecting students’ safety.

The idea of putting armed guards in schools to help prevent school shootings is a favorite talking point of the National Rifle Association, one that’s often parroted on Fox News. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also has been supportive of policies funneling more money toward arming teachers.

The evidence suggests, however, that it’s very unlikely armed personnel in schools will be able to effectively stop a mass shooting. Instead, allowing guns on school campuses simply makes it more likely there will be accidents that compromise students’ safety.

Accidents in which guns are discharged on school grounds are common. A recent Associated Press analysis of local news reports stretching back to 2014 found at least 30 incidents of guns being mistakenly fired in schools.

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In March, for example, a school resource officer in Alexandria, Virginia accidentally fired his weapon inside a middle school during school hours.