arvada colorado police shooting
Police officers investigate the scene of an early afternoon shooting in Olde Town Arvada on Monday, June 21, 2021 in Arvada, Colo. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP)
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[T]he optimal number of times for [incidents like the Arvada armed civilian shooting] to happen is zero. Sometimes you hear these kinds of stories and the circumstances seem like some horrific, star-crossed accident. Other times they seem like outright murder. And there are times in between. But in all cases, instead of making excuses or searching for reasons that this time was ok, these things are a call to say, “Ok, nobody wants this. So as professionals, what is each of us going to improve so that this doesn’t happen again?”

And this all becomes more nuanced as concealed carry continues its 35-year march to ubiquity. There was a time when “person with a gun” meant there was an active threat. Today, “person with a gun” means … nothing. The more we spread gun rights, the more it means nothing.

So police have to navigate the difference between “person with a gun” and “person who I need to shoot”. And the only time that matters is when it’s hard — when a situation is at its most chaotic. Getting to that level of performance has to mean enforcing extremely high standards.

There are two parts to making police better at this:

    1. Their training. Every ownership-minded department in the country should be incorporating this into their training scenarios.
    2. Our own work as gun rights people. Even when things are someone else’s fault, effective people think, “Ok, what can I do to make this better? How can I bring this into my control?” Well, the more we normalize gun ownership, the more exposure police will get to people both carrying guns and, yes, using them in self-defense on the rare occasions that the need arises.

If you work with police or in a police department, you can work on the first one. And all of us can work on the second one. Let’s go make it happen.

— Open Source Defense in “Person with a gun” doesn’t mean what it used to

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58 COMMENTS

  1. Lovely thought re police departments improving their training etc. I’ve been hearing that for, well, since I was old enough to start paying attention to the news. And it never seems to happen.

    Let’s start right now with what we should have right now. Where’s the body cam footage from the officer who shot Johnny Hurley?

    • Covered up by their arms..

      Seen too many police manipulate their cams. Tapping around the mic, obstructing video with their arms or hands.

      Should have camera glasses, body cams, dash cams, weapon cams… Endless possibilities. Let’s be honest, the only reason some of these tyrants are so scared now is because they know they are being watched. Still too much wiggle room for them.

      • I like the glasses cam idea – that way, you see what the officer sees. Even when the cop isn’t trying to obstruct the camera, you can’t see where he’s looking, you can’t know what he is responding to when the camera is on the torso. Alternatively, a cap or helmet camera, like the GoPros that motorcycle riders have adopted. Camera is always looking where the rider is looking, and it’s very rare that the camera gets obstructed.

    • Retired Ohio cop Greg Ellifritz (www.activeresponsetraining.net) has made disparaging comments about the state of police training. He no longer offers classes to departments because the cops ordered to take them are unmotivated. (Individual cops, taking classes on their own time at their own expense, perform well.) Jeff Cooper said the same. The cops and security people sent to his classes, on salary with all expenses paid, were his poorest students. The best were amateurs wanting to win matches followed closely by people who had been victims of violent crime and were determined not to let it happen again.

      The paramedic who taught my first aid class advised us to walk to the patient rather than run. The cop who taught my first handgun class advised us to “Stay frosty.” Untrained private citizens are permitted to have hysterics in an emergency. That’s forbidden to cops (and EMS). It’s their duty, for which they should be trained but too often are not, to function rationally at the top of their game when a situation turns to shit. On the radio, they should not be yelling excitedly. They should sound like test pilots calmly conveying useful information while attempting to regain control of their malfunctioning aircraft.

  2. There is huge difference on how the PD is responding a 10-32 call (Man with Gun)
    compared to a 10-999 call (Officer down/officer needs help immediately).
    The article does not take that into consideration.
    A 10-32 is going to make the PD antsy, a 10-999 is a call for help.
    You want be far away when a PD is responding to a 10-999 call.
    What call went out in Arvada? That’s where I would start.
    It’s all recorded so finding out would be pretty simple.

    I lost interest in the link when it mentioned Kenneth Walker and Breonna Taylor.

    • Heard of NIMS? That silly 10 obsolete BS is BS. Says nothing useful. The standard (NIMS) is clear spoken verbal commo for all emergency services.

      • I have heard of NIMS. The PD does not use that.
        They use the “silly 10 obsolete BS” and have for long time.
        I could tell a story about how a cop put a Glock to my head on a 10-999 call.
        That about sums it up, I thought I was going to be killed.
        It’s something I’ll never forget but is what happens when that call goes out.
        I was 3 blocks away from where a cop was ran over and the people jumped out of the car. I had nothing to with what was going on, I didn’t even know what was going on.
        A cop ran up to me with a Glock out and said don’t move. I didn’t
        I’m still alive and you really never forget when the muzzle in on your forehead and someone is telling you they will blow your brains out. I lived.
        If I hadn’t the it would have been covered up but that was then, this is now.
        I’m over it. The PD has a job to do and it isn’t glamorous or thankful.

    • The Good Samaritan also picked up the perp’s rifle after he neutralized him. If 911 callers reported an active shooter with a rifle and the responding officer spots a man with a rifle it is very hard to dial down. If police departments are going to change their response then we need some common understanding and mutual adherence to procedures on how to keep things safe. I would suggest the common militia model where ownership and carrying of firearms carries some responsibility to adhere to agreed to principals.

  3. Just another daily reminder that the police are not trained and often the poster of things not to do.

    Even when big departments like NYPD hire groups like RAND to identify weaknesses in the firearms training and ways to improve and correct it. The NYPD and other big departments will never actually implement any of the changes to improve; they’ll just find reasons not to do it. (https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG717.pdf)

    Or when the big departments like the NCPD, MTA PD and NYPD interact and with in this case plain clothes, NCPD officer Breitkopf for merely carrying a firearm was murder by MTA PD Officers Gentile and Ramos. However, none of the NY Metro area LEA’s would have behaved any differently if their officers had been in reversed roles or had an innocent civilian been carrying. (https://www.casemine.com/judgement/us/5914f199add7b0493497c005)

    The police don’t want to change, their mentality and they know that no one will ever held them accountable for their actions, and sadly they are proven correct in almost every case.

  4. So far I’ve seen no evidence that the officer in question told the victim to drop the gun. From all the printed accounts I’ve seen it appears to be “shoot first, ask later”. I can’t think of any department where that would be SOP.

    • It’s SOP is most departments, especially if there is dead LEO laying on the ground.
      That dead LEO has obviously been shot to death and there is guy standing there with a rifle.
      It’s old school law, you kill us, we kill you. Most PDs are basically legally armed gangs.
      It’s been that way for more then 150 years and the “Woke” BS isn’t going to stop it.
      What happened to John Hurley was tragic but SOP.
      It has been SOP since the 1800’s.

      • You said, “It’s old school law, you kill us, we kill you.”
        No, in this case, it’s “You save our lives, we kill you.”
        Nobody’s ever going to want to step in and save a cop’s life again, considering the reward for saving a cop’s life is death. If the bad guy doesn’t shoot you for saving the cop’s life, police will shoot you for saving a cop’s life. Either way, you get the death penalty for saving a cop’s life, so nobody will want to save cops’ lives ever again until police change their SOP of “shoot first, ask questions later.”

        • No, in this case, it’s “You save our lives, we kill you.”
          Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley is dead, John Hurley did not save another cops life.
          John Hurley should have not had a gun in his hand and the outcome may have been different. It may not have been.
          By having Troykes rifle in his hands, he was the immediate suspected gunman and was subsequently killed.
          Like I said it’s tragic but the outcome was probably avoidable.
          Regardless of peoples opinions, LEOS sometimes have to “shoot first, ask questions later.” It can be a matter of a tenth of a second or less of you going home or to the morgue.

          John Hurley chose to get involved, he was a heroic and it cost him his life.

  5. “Person with a gun…”

    What has that ever meant?

    Lots of people have guns. Lots of people have always had guns.

    • I don’t ever think you’ll ever make cop’s responses perfect. Think long & hard before you pull yer legal gun & plug a “bad”guy. The po-leece aren’t known for high IQ’s…they sure don’t respect gun owners in Cook County!

  6. 100 million? You’re joking, right? I live in the heart of the bay area. Surrounded by libs. Everybody I know owns a gun. And I know people that live in Berkeley.

    If you can get people to answer honestly I’m betting the number is north of 250 million. Good luck following beigings orders, uncle joe. You’re going to need it.

  7. honest people with concealed or open carry need to start dropping these thugs…not cops…that is the only thing that will stop it.. then the low lifes will think twice…then the only thing cops would really have to respond to is gun free zones..

  8. What they need to do is start holding those who call in these bogus person with gun calls accountable for their actions of wasting the time of law enforcement. Just like abusing the 911 system.

  9. Ahhh The Experts that never do the job.
    Then you’ve got The Military comments who act as if it went perfectly and nothing ever happened wrong which I know is a complete lie because I was there.
    Yeah I’ve got 20 and 23 years respectively and mistake are made. They are that Mistakes. You have a guy holding the rifle that killed your guy who doesn’t set it down when you show up….
    Perhaps it’s not just law enforcement that need training perhaps it’s The People as well but y’all are perfect right?

      • Until you need them, then you’ll bitch they took too much time to get there.
        I never realized there were so many “Woke” anti police people on this forum.
        It’s been a eye opening morning.

        • I never have, and never will need armed police. If you need to call someone else with a gun, they’re already too late.

          I’ve only ever needed detectives after the fact, and they were worthless too. Even when provided HD video that did their job for them.

          They’re worthless.

        • “I never have, and never will need armed police”

          until they’re not around at all, and you yourself have to deal with all the situations they’ve been dealing with before it ever got to you.

    • The John Hurley death is a perfect example of how the gun-culture demographic has already changed. I think Matt is right that People Of The Gun have to re-think just where they/we fit into the whole constitutional carry armed citizen environment. The fact is, new rules are already arrived as a result of clearly evident social changes like random street violence and skyrocketing crime rates in most of our cities. We simply aren’t as safe as we once were. Which, logically enough, causes people to arm themselves.

      Thus we have an exponentially expanding People Of The Gun population, an entirely new demographic of armed citizens who are obviously very interested in defending themselves and others. It’s not only cops—and this says nothing of our government agencies—who need to understand the new rules: it’s us too.

  10. Carriers need to use common sense, too. Don’t be that guy that’s standing there holding a rifle when the police arrive after all the shooting is done with. Hands should have been empty and in plain sight, preferably on top of head. Signal that you’re not a threat, otherwise you are a threat and fair game. This guy was a hero, just not a smart hero. He contributed to his own demise.

    • How about he kneels down before da fuzz? Or better, lay down in the mud? Prostating ones self is an old and honored tradition of the royals.

      Any more baduns in the area though before he disarms? Scene Safe? The copper even have his head on a swivel or looking or tunneling on that scary black rifle?

      • “How about he kneels down before da fuzz?”

        if ever comes a time when the cops are gone and you become the cop by default – you’ll do exactly precisely what they do, and for the same reasons.

    • You can say that in hindsight but Hurley had no way of knowing that the perp was working alone. I would not want empty hands when the accomplice of the guy I just shot shows up.

  11. Anytime you kill a human you’ve got to hurry and hide it before the cops show up and haul it off in the meat wagon.
    They never do that to deer hunters. I guess a hunting license and a tag makes all the difference.

  12. At the end of the day you can’t have both caution and aggression. With caution, you get Columbines.

    The risk of irresponsible CCWers getting shot by police rushing into active shooter calls is justified by the benefit of not hanging back and allowing active shooters to kill until they get tired and give up. The onus is on the CCWer who chooses to insert himself into that situation to behave responsibly and get his hands clear before police arrive. If you don’t like that, you are free to turn around, run away from the gunfire, and leave it to the professionals.

    Active shooter scenes run on big boy rules. If you have a gun in your hand, you are eligible to get shot. Doubly so if you do something as stupid as pick up the shooter’s rifle and play with it.

    • What you mean is the permit holders who may have never taken a SD class or a very minimal one and think that their permit makes them U.S. Marshals?

      You aren’t the police, you are not under any obligation to get involved, your permit does not deputize you.

      For gods sake if you see someone blow away a cop and then you blow that person away, don’t have a gun in your hand knowing the REAL police are coming. Two people were dead, they weren’t getting up. When the REAL police get there if you are vertical and everyone else is horizontal, they are going to assume you are the active shooter, especially if you have a rifle in your hands.

      It was a combination of something tragic and stupid that cost John Hurley his life.

      • You are allowed to.use deadly force only if somebody is a threat to yourself or another person. Even if you witness someone murder a child, you aren’t allowed to just execute that person. If the perp isn’t being a continued threat and is following commands, an officer’s job is to arrest that person.

        If cops don’t care about armed citizens, maybe they care about other cops. There have been plain clothes and off duty cops who have confronted criminals and been killed by the responding police.

        I don’t know what happened in Arvada when the responding officers arrived. If Hurley wasn’t pointing at somebody and was following commands, he didn’t deserve to be shot. If he had the rifle trained on the downed perp, it is understandable for the officer to believe he was the bad guy and an immediate threat.

      • @Rob S We now live in a time where, in many cities, we can no long reliably count of the cops coming. Criminals have already figured this out and so, we can assume, have the terrorists, the revolutionaries, gang bangers, the deranged spree killers. These people may be unimaginably evil but they are hardly dumb.

        Of necessity, we are likely to see more John Hurleys. Our task is for us, as a society, to discover ways for citizen-defenders to avoid being confused with citizen-attackers. Hurley would probably alive today he hadn’t been holding that AR when the cop arrived.

  13. The one thing that I’ve heard that might prevent this from happening to a concealed carrier or open carrier for that matter is to take out your wallet and hold it up in the air open with your non-gun hand. Then you might resemble a plain clothes officer on scene. Because a bad guy wouldn’t do that.

  14. “Law Enforcement Needs to Relearn How to Respond to Reports of ‘Person With a Gun’”

    read about some guy in new york who would see a cop on a corner and phone in a report of a man with a gun on that corner. lots of police would show up searching the area, then go away, and he’d repeat the report on another cop somewhere else.

  15. It would be awesome if the “professionals” were held to the same standard of conduct when shooting that we “untrained civilians” are. Training, or lack thereof is irrelevant; with genuine accountability these issues would go away and without it they will continue.

    If i shoot and kill someone for holding a firearm at low ready, I’m a murderer. If a pig does it he’s a hero. Go figure

  16. Advice I gave my daughter when she came into her teen years. If ever confronted by a cop pointing a gun at her or someone near her she is to open her hands. Do not think, do not ask why, do not call out “It’s just my “iPhone!”. She is to open her hands, fingers spread, palms toward the officer and make like a statue. IF her iPhone breaks when she opens her hands I will get her a new one right quick.

    The point is that cops are two things when they point a gun at someone. Scared for their own lives and reacting to their training. A lot of cops have had “Warrior Cop” training, which heightens their potential to overreact in an otherwise non-threat situation.

    This is where the good citizen who stopped a cop killer made his mistake. When the cops rolled up he should have been making himself a statue, hands up, palms forward, fingers wide spread. Let the cops get over their excitement and figure out the scene, do not make yourself a scary target.

    A horrible tragedy but that citizen hero made a fatal mistake. He had the killer’s rifle in his own hands. He made himself appear to be a bad guy, and he paid terribly for it.

    Never touch the evidence folks. Do not touch the bad guy’s weapon. And do not have any gun in your own hands,

    Sure, police training is out of whack, needs fixing. Doesn’t mean that you are off the hook for your own safety from a “Friendly Fire” death.

  17. Two stories out of Iowa. One done right and one done wrong.

    A farm wife called 911 to report a prowler. A few minutes later, she called to report that her husband had shot the prowler as he tried to force his way into their home. A very wise dispatcher put out a message to responding officers that the homeowner had shot the prowler. That told them that (1) there was a good chance they would encounter someone with a gun and (2) they would need to determine who it was, homeowner or prowler, before acting.

    A carjacking by a drug addict turned into an abduction. The male victim’s sister reported the crime to 911 while his brother followed the car with abductor and victim in his own vehicle. Two cops approached the kidnap car. This distracted the kidnapper which gave the victim a opportunity to overpower the kidnapper. During the struggle, the kidnapper’s gun fired. The cops immediately riddled the car. When the brother exclaimed, “You just shot my brother,” the cops replied, “He shot at us.” To add insult to injury, the cops hit the victim but missed the kidnapper. Fortunately, the victim survived but recuperation took a long time.

    Another story, out of Colorado, that went wrong. An armed whack job took hostages. After many hours, the whack job fell asleep. One of the hostages took this opportunity to escape. Seeing a sheriff’s deputy, he ran toward him for safety. The deputy shot him to death.

  18. This dishonest biased assessment of what actually happened in Arvada CO is the sort of anti LE red meat that loser Robert Farago so loved to toss to the few usual suspect cop hating regulars that frequent this forum.

    The truth is that a boneheaded decision to pick up the active shooters rifle and hold it as responding LEO’s arrived at a shots fired-officer down-active shooter with a long gun call, proved fatal to the well intentioned hero in Arvada and would likely prove fatal just about anyplace else in the U.S. no matter the level of training. Cheap shot Zimmerman, but I’m sure Farago is sitting somewhere in a cloud of cannabis smoke nodding his head in agreement with you.

  19. It would be fantastic if “professionals” were held to the same standards as “untrained citizens” when it came to shooting. It makes no difference whether there is training or not; if there was true responsibility, these problems would go away; if there isn’t, they would persist cookie clicker.
    I’m a murderer if I shoot and kill someone for having a handgun at low readiness. If a pig does something, he is a hero. So there you have it.

  20. Here is the Arvada mayor’s statement:

    “This has been an incredibly tough seven days since what happened last Monday. This week, Arvada has been wounded in its very heart. An individual who had hatred for the police, and for the Arvada Police in particular, set off a horrendous chain of events that has led to three tragedies and adversely affected many people.

    This gunman ambushed and murdered Officer Gordon Beesley who was a 19-year veteran of the Arvada Police Department. Gordon was a school resource officer, a former recipient of the Arvada Employee of the Year award, and he was loved by all, especially his wife and two children. They, and all of us, are grieving.

    Johnny Hurley was a visitor to Olde Town, who took decisive action to protect others without thought for his own safety. Based on reports, he shot and killed the gunman, which without question saved lives of other officers and potentially other citizens in our community. He died a hero, and we will forever call him a hero to our community. Arvada will forever be in his debt, and we offer our thoughts and our prayers to his family, friends and loved ones.

    A transcription of the statement was released Tuesday, just hours after a funeral service for Beesley, at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette. The service was only open to law enforcement, family and invited guests; however, many community members watched the service online and lined the procession route.

    There must be a whole bunch of “bootlickers” in Arvada.

    “An individual who had hatred for the police, and for the Arvada Police in particular, set off a horrendous chain of events that has led to three tragedies and adversely affected many people.”

    The funny thing is from reading the comments I have read a bunch of comments from individuals who definitely have a hatred of the police.

    In Chicago with a population of roughly 3 million, through June of 2021 there have been a total of 9 police-involved shootings. The CPD has shot 9 people and injured 6, killing 3.

    The following is what they might have to deal with any given minute. This is for all of the people on this forum who thinks they have what it takes to be a cop. Most of you would probably be laying in a pool of your own blood and piss. Deal with this stuff every shift and see what your mentality is.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6h_7dUKZL4

    I don’t expect to change anyone’s opinions, especially since most people who hate cops have probably have gotten a ticket they thought they didn’t deserve. Those psychopathic untrained cops, how dare they gave me a speeding ticket.

    Remind me to subscribe to “Open Source Defense”, they don’t seem too idiotic.
    “Somebody read our blog.”
    Awesome!

  21. “There was a time when “person with a gun” meant there was an active threat. ”

    I guess there were some limited areas of the country, for a while, where that might have been true. It’s never been true over remotely the whole country, at any time in our history, and hasn’t been true over most of the country, for most of our history.

    At most you can say that, at one time, you’d only have gotten the call about it IF there was an active threat, because SWATing hadn’t become a thing yet.

  22. Another story, out of Colorado, that went wrong. An armed whack job took hostages. After many hours, the whack job fell asleep. One of the hostages took this opportunity to escape. Seeing a sheriff’s deputy, he ran toward him for safety. The deputy shot him to death.

  23. Johnny Hurley was a visitor to Olde Town, who took decisive action to protect others without thought for his own safety. Based on reports, he shot and killed the gunman, which without question saved lives of other officers and potentially other citizens in our community. He died a hero, and we will forever call him a hero to our community. Arvada will forever be in his debt, and we offer our thoughts and our prayers to his family, friends and loved ones.

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