Don’t get me wrong. Teachers are grateful for all the donations and help they can get. But sometimes, teachers get a head-scratcher:

Massachusetts schools receive blue buckets filled with items to use if an active shooter is on the campus.

blue bucket

A rope, a wedge, a hammer, and duct tape: what could go wrong?

Here is what teachers received and the interpretations teachers have been sharing on what they think they should do with the items:

ROPE: The rope may be used to secure the door. After piling furniture in the way, the rope may be tied to the doorknob and to something else in the classroom to prevent the shooter from getting the door opened.

GOT response: It is difficult to get the necessary tightness into a nylon rope to maintain tension to prevent slack. Also, what knot should be used? This may work in a Hollywood movie, but in real life, the rope is useless as it will be impossible in a panic situation to pull the rope tight and secure with the proper knots. Bad knots mean the rope will not hold the door shut.

DUCT TAPE: Duct tape may be used to seal the door cracks to prevent smoke from entering. Also, may be used to seal wounds so victims do not bleed out.

GOT response: Knowledgeable people, such as those with military experience from dealing with wounds on a battlefield, have said that duct tape will cause terrible damage to the body when it is removed. It is not a good option. As for that smoke, these are active shooters. They are not releasing poisonous gasses into hallways. They are not setting fires. They do use smoke bombs to cause confusion, but these do not present a threat to people secure in a locked-down classroom.

HAMMER AND WEDGE: Use the hammer to pound the wedge under the door to prevent it from opening. If the shooter does get in, throw the hammer at him.

GOT response: The wedge idea is not a bad one, but in a panic situation, no one wants to stay at the door for a long time whacking away at a wedge on the floor. Again, it is easy to do it during a calm drill, but when everything is running on adrenaline and fear, simple tasks get much harder to do.

As for throwing the hammer at the shooter if he gets into the room, you are most likely dead before you draw your arm back. Why do people always fall back on the dumb idea that the way to stop the killing is for teachers to throw things?

BUCKET: During lengthy lockdowns, the bucket may be used for emergency bathroom needs.

GOT response: Go ahead, teachers, give permission to a child to expose themselves and use the bucket in front of the other children. See how long you keep your job. And if it’s only a drill, don’t expect your friendly custodian to empty the bucket, sanitize it, and return it to your room.

Finally, we learn that the duct tape or rope can be used to secure the shooter after the hero-teacher has knocked him out with the hammer.

I don’t want to reproach those whose hearts are in the right place, but lacking good counsel, they are making ineffective responses to a very serious problem.

Blue buckets are not the answer.

Sensible gun registration laws, combined with a ban on civilian possession of lethal firepower above a certain level, better mental health services, removal of the CDC ban on a study of gun violence, and more attention to the root causes that push young people to make a fatal decision is a better way to go.

P.S.: As the Doctor* would say, you have lost the right to talk to me if you think the blue bucket is a good idea but it lacks one thing–the gun Betsy Devos wants to put into it.

*Doctor Who, BBC science fiction television series.

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