Gun gurus love to teach newbies how to “slice the pie.” While the room-clearing technique is a time-tested, valuable addition to any armed Americans’ self-defense repertoire, it’s also one of the most dangerous things you can do with a gun. In most cases assuming a defensive position is your best defense when facing an imminent assault. In the video above, New Hope City, MN Council Member John Elder, a former police officer and currently a public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, did the right thing. Here’s how it went down [via startribune.com]. . .

The bizarre and shocking event began shortly after two new officers, Joshua Eernisse and Adam Johnson, were sworn in during the City Council meeting that began about 7 p.m. The officers along with others who attended the ceremony walked out of the chambers about 7:15 p.m. A man with a “long gun” shot at the officers, Carlson said.

“Two officers were struck. Other officers were able to return fire, subsequently killing the suspect,” Carlson told reporters in a briefing shortly before 10 p.m. in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center.

Inside the chambers, a video of the ongoing City Council recorded the sound of a gunshot, followed by five or six additional shots . . .

New Hope City Council Member John Elder, a former police officer and currently a public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, appears in the video, behind the council desk with his gun drawn and pointed toward the door to the chambers.

Elder and his colleagues emerged unscathed. The officers are in good condition. At the risk (make that certainty) of being labeled an armchair warrior, there are some ways that Elder could have done better.

Elder might have removed his butt from that chair and crouched down, getting ready to GTFO. His shooting “stance” left an awful lot of his body exposed, making him an easy target (especially as the shooter had a long gun).

Elder could have told the Council members who insisted on being pop-up targets to GTF on the floor. (Then again, they would have drawn fire away from himself…). Although the audio cuts out, I suspect he didn’t communicate an escape or attack plan with his colleagues.

Other variables . . .

The desk behind which [some] Council members hid is concealment, not cover. It’s lousy protection and an obvious target. Also, it looks like quite a long shot from the desk to the door. Was there somewhere else Elder could have positioned himself that would have afforded him better ballistic protection, an easier shot and the element of surprise?

Anyway, as always, result.

34 Responses to Self-Defense Tip [via New Hope, Minnesota City Council]: Assume A Defensive Position

  1. Hmmm….tactical discussion aside, I’m very curious about the “why’s” of this shooting. Random? Targeting cops in general? Targeting a specific cop?

    Been a couple of high profile police ambushes in the last year or so. Is this an increasing trend?

    • And let it be emphasized, too, that yet another ‘active shooter’ was stopped quickly by positive, armed response. Not peeing yourself. Not wishfully thinking “I hope he just doesn’t shoot me.”

      Thus shows, once again, the complete moral corruption of “Gun Free Zones” were a guy like this would have had free rein.

      • New information from a call to the New Hope PD: to the best of their knowledge the Chambers are NOT a gun-free zone. Headline and text amended.

        • And because of that (putting the positioning of the counsel member aside), the threat was quickly stopped. Had this been a “gun free zone,” I think there would have been a lot of dead bodies had additional officers not been outside. At least they had a fighting (armed) chance inside the chambers, and at least one of them was smart enough to be armed.

          On the flip side, I’ll bet the gunman would have immediately stopped and put his weapon down if he had seen a “Gun Free Zone” sign (especially if it had the crossed-out Beretta silhouette) at the entrance . . .

        • FYI, our carry law here in MN states that city buildings cannot be posted. For as messed up of a state as we are (taxes), we have a good carry law.

          I live about a mile east of that city hall. New Hope is a nice mostly quite city.

          Did anyone notice that the councilman has wither a Glock 34 or 35?

  2. Seems telling fellow council members and audience to GTF down would have been a nice addition to drawing his weapon. Panic in sues and people stop thinking. Yea, I know because it has happened to me before.

  3. No one ever in the history of the world has ever thought anything along the lines of “Boy, I sure would like to shoot Commissioner Smith and Commissioner Jones tonight, but I can’t since it’s illegal to take a gun to the city council meeting.” The stupidity involved in the majority of a state legislature deciding that the best way to prevent someone from shooting people at city council meetings is to ban guns from the meetings is nothing short of staggering.

  4. For those wondering about motivation, the shooter is a nutjob that shows up to these meetings alot. That’s the word on the street here. (MN) I’m hearing that people are nervous when he’s around, so it sounds like he was a ticking time bomb.

  5. I am not surprised. I have never been impressed with the training of most police officers. Their training tends to center around the most likely scenarios, not necessarily the ones that are the most dangerous. For example, police tend to be trained to stand out in the open to slug it out with a shooter, whereas sometimes, especially when you cannot see your target or when there are multiple opponents, it is best to maneuver to cover. Of course, there are exceptions depending on the police department and their training budget.

  6. He did tell people to get down, unfortunately, they kept pretending to play whack-a-mole. Again, at the risk of armchair quarterbacking, moving from concealment to better cover (if available), covering/concealing yourself better, a coordinated move towards an exit point (if available), and never put your firearm down when you’re unsure about whether the threat had been neutralized.

  7. Their lack of GTF down was probably due to some denial/disbelief. Kind of like watching a car crash. Or someone having a heart attack in public. People who don’t think about these things may have a brief sense of “No… really…?” It shocks them because they never thought about it.

  8. One wonders if the structure up front actually is some form of cover. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if it the wooden face disguises a small concrete wall or something similar. It would be a sensible idea to do so.

    • Agreed, we don’t know that the desk is only cover. I know of one city council who had steel plate installed there. Don’t know if was AR500 or something else.

  9. I don’t know what he did it for, but I love how he put his firearm down and picked it up a few of seconds later (I counted 4-Mississippi before he had a good grip on it again).

  10. Well, the results had nothing to do with Elder’s action…or inaction. I think it is important to learn from situations like this, so armchair quarterbacking is helpful.
    I watched the video before reading RF’s take. By the headline, I thought RF was going to praise the actions of the Council members. As I watched it, I was thinking, get down or GTFO! I also recognized that the IKEA furniture was not cover. I was getting irritated by all the prairie dogging.
    Here is what I would do, not necessarily in order nor all these.
    1) Hide (for real, not peaking and if someone is with me that keeps making noise or showing themselves, then I am hiding somewhere else)
    2) Run (GTFO or at least be a moving target)
    3) Take a defensive shooting position behind cover
    4) Go on offense (fight)

  11. “Was there somewhere else Elder could have positioned himself that would have afforded him better ballistic protection, an easier shot and the element of surprise?”

    Yes, right next to the door where Mr. Elder expected the attacker to enter the room. As the attacker enters the doorway, Mr. Elder could have used one hand to deflect the attacker’s gun while simultaneously shooting the attacker multiple times with his handgun in his other hand. Assuming there was only one attacker without a ballistic vest, the attacker would be incapacitated within two or three seconds from multiple handgun wounds to the torso. While two to three seconds is actually a fairly long time in a fight, I would imagine most reasonably fit people could hold the attacker’s barrel at bay for that long.

  12. And as we learned from the recent TTaG simulation of the Paris attack, everyone in that room should have immediately mobilized to either escape out of a back door or converged on the front door for melee’ tactics.

  13. If it were me, I would hope I’d have the presence to keep low and move to my gun arm preferred side of the council chamber (his right) by the right wall for a lateral position in relation to the entrance door rather than maintaining a position dead center to the entrance.

    The ideal position to maintain a defensive posture would be in the alcove of chairs just to the right of the entrance and out of the sight line of anyone entering the Council Chambers, but there is a lot of exposure to get there and he’s no longer a youngish, hopefully fit, patrolman.

  14. Most people aren’t conditioned to respond to physical violence at the the drop of a hat. We would all hope that our responses would be better, but unless you’ve been in active combat or some other situation like this, you (and I) would likely act the same for a few seconds. After that, the sheepdog/sheep instinct kicks in and you go from there.

    • You assume that the people often shown in these situations are as consumed with firearms and tactics as you or I am. I would like to think that any of us put in the same situation would react differently than the average citizen that has never even seen a gun much less held or fired one.

  15. Obviously there should have been a tactical mini trampoline that he could have done a flip from and at the end of the rotation, thrown a laser sighted tactical tomahawk. Before the tactical tomahawk hits it’s target, he could have drawn his pistol, press checked it, temple pressed, and fired two rounds that hit right before the tomahawk touched down. Then it’s up on his feet, tactical pistol hold in front of the chest, scan both ways, temple press check rack the slide with his pant leg, tactical reholster, and then check that he’s still wearing his inspirational What Would Chris Costa Do wristband.

    Seems pretty obvious really.

  16. Man they did OK. 1st day on the job and you get shot. Damn…it turned out OK. I don’t expect everyone knew they were gunshots either. It gets hard around here on the 4th of July too…

  17. At least one guy was smart enough to have a gun.

    If this happened in my neighborhood, I probably wouldn’t have reacted the same by ducking down, because in the past some intellect-challenged semi-retard has been going around at night, randomly shooting off blanks — I would pay a bit more attention if I heard that, but don’t think I’d duck.

    …anyway, to the person randomly shooting off blanks: you’re lucky I wasn’t there with my very real bullets.

  18. Can I laugh that the cops pulled a restraining order on this guy?

    “From 2008 to last summer, he had appeared before the small northwest metro city’s council to speak at least four times. In nearby Crystal, police had filed a restraining order against him in August after Kmetz’s family warned police that he had threatened to bring a shotgun to City Hall.”

    paper is always worthless

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