Students look outside school for active shooter training

Back to School

After 20 children and 6 adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Tennessee lawmakers passed a law requiring public schools to teach armed intruder drills.  

But since what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been at least 200 more shootings in schools, according to Gun Violence Archive

School districts are preparing students for this horrifying threat, but some students are finding potentially life-saving lessons in another type of classroom.  

At Hendersonville Martial Arts, Michelle Rees takes charge.  

“It was really eye-opening, and I feel like I am more prepared if that situation were to happen.” 

Rees, a rising sophomore, is talking about an active shooter situation. Although rare, it’s a threat she prepares for in her Sumner County high school. 

“We have a police officer come in the gym and we were told everything we should do.” 

Thomas Bush had a similar drill at his high school.  

“We all get in a corner in the room and be silent while there is a sheet of paper over the glass, so the shooter might think nobody is in there,” explained Bush, a rising senior.  

Bush and Rees have been taking classes at Hendersonville Martial Arts and when the active shooter training was offered, they were interested to learn more.  

The training follows guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security. If in an active shooter situation, the first step is run, the second is to hide. The last step, fight, is where Justin Swanson comes in.  

“Your techniques can’t be overly complicated, so we teach them the techniques but then we give them the chance to put it under stress,” explained Justin Swanson, owner of Hendersonville Martial Arts.  

Swanson said the class is as real as possible.  

“We actually have the gunman come out, there will be yelling, and all the commotion is happening, and people will have to spring into action whether that be to run, whether that be to tackle them, take the weapon, but to actually put these scenarios into action.” 

Rees and her dad took the class together.  

“I feel like it gives my daughter a leg up if she were in a situation like this, she would know a little bit better what to do, be able to get herself to safety, maybe some of her friends and be a little bit better prepared than your average student,” said Stephen Rees.  

Training for the day they hope never comes and opting to be prepared instead of scared.  

“If you feel a little bit helpless about this, take action. Arm yourself, arm your families with information and training that you need,” said Swanson.  

Hendersonville Martial Arts is offering two weeks of free classes for kids or teenagers.  

The school will also offer another active shooter defense class on September 22. Registration is underway at surviveashooter.com.

News 2 is your official back-to-school station. We’ve got special reports every day leading up to the first day of class. See our stories on air and on wkrn.com. 

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