The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Active shooter situations within schools have become a major discussion across the country. In this week’s Legal Lens, Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, explains who is legally responsible for protecting kids.

What do people need to know about this situation?

“FBI defines someone as an active shooter who is harming people or attempting to harm in a populated area,” McNairy said. “We are talking about active shooter training which is popping up in a lot of schools.  It’s a series of training facilities that are designed to help minimize mass casualties and prevent access to children in schools for someone who may want to harm them. But because each school is different and set ups are different, they need to be customized to meet the needs of the school community. Missouri has very few laws on this. There is one that says that school personnel have to participate in any active shooter drill. The law allows Missouri schools to engage with law enforcement to come up with safety plans but does not require schools to do that.”

Who is responsible for protecting kids in schools?

“Traditionally, courts said nobody could prevent harm to someone in schools, especially when talking about random acts of violence,” McNairy said. “The more these situations happen, the more it becomes foreseeable. Courts are starting to chip away at that general rule that nobody can be responsible for random acts of violence. Schools can now be found liable on occasion if it’s foreseeable and something that was preventable.”

Who is responsible to respond if one occurs because we saw what happened in Uvalde, Texas?

“Surprisingly, officers have no legal responsibility to respond to saving someone’s life than the general public does,” McNairy said. “What we are seeing now because of the most recent shooting is a lot of talk of new bills, new laws, legislation being introduced to actually require police or emergency personnel to respond. So, they would be on the lookout for that new legislation to be proposed in various states and various locations in the next session.”