Canning an Armed Shooter


Alyssa Kennedy, Writer

Priscilla Holley, principal of W.F. Burns Middle School in Chambers County, Alabama sent an email to parents requesting their children bring an eight-ounce canned good to class. The twist? The canned goods weren’t for a food drive but to be used as a defense tactic against armed intruders.

This odd tactic is referenced in ALICE, “The purpose of ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training is to prepare individuals to handle the threat of an Active Shooter. ALICE teaches individuals to participate in their own survival…”

The canned goods are attached to the “counter” step in ALICE. Principal Holley said in her email to parents, “It is a practice that would catch an intruder off guard. The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until police arrive.”

This email and the events that followed have received national attention. After-all, it’s not everyday that principals suggest food fights to their students.

Principal Holley’s email has asked an important question: Would students be willing to take a can to a gunfight?

Riley Shrode, a freshman in ROTC said, “I would fight if I had to.”

Junior Christopher Pakruda said, “That’s a good waste of food… and it wouldn’t help cuz’ they won’t hit.”

While students are skeptical of canning, Officer Ange, an SRO at Bob Jones, views the tactic optimistically, “I think it’s freakin’ awesome! Students need to think about what they would do in that situation.” To him it’s not about preserving normality; it’s about preserving life and doing “anything they can do to survive.”

The good news is that students of Madison City Schools have been well drilled on what measures to take if an intruder entered the school.  Abby Abbisacco, a junior at Bob Jones High School, said, “Well, I would listen to the code and be really quiet… I think the precautions the school takes makes me feel safe.”

At the end of the day, feeling safe and being safe are two entirely different things. There’s a difference between a drill and the real thing. No matter how many drills a school runs, no one is ever absolutely prepared for the unpredictable situation of an armed shooter.