The Franklin Police Department has been holding active shooter seminars for community members to help them survive in the event of such an incident, with the next free seminar set for Wednesday.
FPD has been conducting the seminars for churches, schools, businesses and for community members in general since 2017 following the Las Vegas mass shooting that killed more than 50 people and injured more than 800 people at a music festival.
Earlier this month, FPD Captain Rick Clouse, who is also an experienced U.S. Army veteran, led two seminars for around four dozen community members where the detailed the unfortunate realities that have made the seminars an important tool in public education.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that 277 active shooter incidents occurred in the United States from 2000-18, resulting in the deaths of 884 people and 1,546 people wounded.
Clouse said during FPD's seminar that the reality of mass shootings may actually be more than what the FBI reports, with documented mass shootings needing to meet certain criteria to be categorized as such, including the number of victims and the motivation of the killer(s).
As the U.S. has seen a rise in mass killings over the past 20 years, they have identified a profile that shows that these killers are usually lone attackers, often white men, who kill people in a short period of time and often kill themselves, although Clouse pointed out that while we know what mass killers typically look or act like, a mass killer can look like anyone, including women or men of different races and ages.
Clouse told seminar attendees that while it's important to understand the dangers of contemporary life, that they should not live in fear, instead, being ready for the potential of encountering violence.
This preparation includes having a simple plan for yourself and your family to communicate, escape and survive an act of violence, being aware of what gunfire sounds like and following your gut in a situation where your body is telling you that something isn't right.
If someone does find themselves in an active shooting situation, they are encouraged to run, hide and fight, in that order, understanding that attempting to save yourself is the most important thing that each person can do.
If someone is in the unfortunate situation of a mass shooting incident, especially when helping an injured person, Clouse said that, "a little bit of hope will make you stay alive."
And with the rise in gun ownership and the recent change in the legality of carrying a gun in Tennessee, Clouse said that if they are a gun owner, not only should they train with that weapon, but they should also understand the risks of carrying a gun and understand that an armed citizen's role as a self-defender is not the same as the role of law enforcement.
"We wanted to reassure our residents that we had their backs," FPD Public Information Officer Charlie Warner said in an email. "Just as important, we wanted to empower them with knowledge. We wanted them to know how they could save their own life, and possibly the lives of those around them, before police even arrive, by giving them an idea of what to do if they were ever faced with the unthinkable. You have to have a plan: 'If this happens, then I’m going to do that.' It’s a mindset that every police officer is trained in. It’s a mindset that saves lives."
Two of the seminar attendees on Feb. 10 were Williamson County husband and wife Daniel and Julie Jones who said that they had a "dawning realization" that the world of the 60s and 70s that they were born into has changed and led them to think about their safety differently.
"We had a realization about four or five years ago that we were completely unprepared in the world as it is so we first took a Williamson County Sheriff's gun safety course and then became armed, and this is a part of the next step, preparation," Daniel Jones said.
"We didn't have a gameplan," Julie Jones said, noting the emphasis of the seminar's information on planning ahead.
"We didn't," her husband responded, "but now we will."
FPD is still accepting attendees for their next seminar, which will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, and anyone interested in learning more can register online here.