Proposal for School Marshals in Washington State

The following proposal for School Marshals in Washington state is republished from the March 15, 2018 Spokesman Review.

There are once again many heated discussions about how to stop the carnage in our schools. A few years ago, I led a group of trial attorneys through an analysis of what it will take for Washington state school districts to seriously tackle the issue of protecting schools. It is apparent that Parkland School District in Florida will have to pay huge sums for its failure to anticipate mass murder that was very foreseeable.

School Marshals- Not Teachers with guns. Many school boards and legislatures in other states have already embarked on a policy of authorizing armed personnel within school premises. Federal and Washington state law both leave it up to school boards to designate who will be armed in Washington schools. Nevertheless, most educators and school boards flatly reject proposals for arming teachers with guns.

There is reason to believe that some Washington state schools are already taking quiet steps, however. Teachers who choose to undertake the training and responsibility of being a school marshal should not be denied the same opportunity to serve as certified School Marshals that we are proposing for other qualified personnel.

Public Duty Doctrine It should not be a surprise to anyone that such matters are insurance driven. Washington state’s Public Duty Doctrine dictates that a policy decision not to deploy armed protection in the schools exposes school districts to very low levels of liability. That is because it is a pure policy decision and therefore immune from liability for almost any accidents that occur.

Prohibitive insurance costs The cost of insuring for accidents on the part of School Marshals is astronomical. Even an accidental discharge or a stray bullet discharged during a deadly force encounter subjects a school district to huge liabilities. Once the policy decision is made to arm school personnel, the gun-handling issues are no longer discretionary policy acts. Rather, decisions regarding imminent use of deadly force leave very little room for discretion. Therefore, school administrators choose to play the insurance actuary version of Russian roulette with the lives of our children and school staff.

Proposed legislation What is needed are state-legislated standards for armed school marshal certification. The legislation we are proposing will provide districts with an incentive to deploy certified School Marshals who meet or exceed law enforcement standards in areas that are relevant to school safety.

School marshal program By deploying certified School Marshals, school districts should enjoy a legislated grant of immunity from any liability for negligence that occurs due to acts in good faith on the part of duly certified personnel. The grant of district and personal immunity will keep exposure to liability low and act as an incentive for insurance companies to hold down premiums and perhaps even subsidize the continuous training that should be required.

Training standards We are asking law enforcement authorities to propose the standards for training and vetting school marshals and also to participate in drafting the proposed legislation.

Action Training Group Inc. A nonprofit, volunteer group, the Action Training Group presently encourages gun owners at every skill level to participate in action shooting. We present “shoot-on-the-move” drills every month. We also share information related to church safety. The ATG is now beginning to invite teachers and other school personnel to participate in some special training sessions. We want to develop many of the skill sets needed to qualify as a school marshal.

The sky will not fall! Just as the air marshal program began under a cloud of complaints that the sky would fall if we allowed guns in commercial aircraft, we are now hearing that we can’t expect school personnel to safely do what the four deputies at the Florida school failed to do. Nevertheless, a sea change is about to occur in which many districts in Washington will arm certain personnel. Let’s create an incentive for them to deploy specially trained people and lead the way with a model for legislation that can be enacted in other states.

Mark S. Knapp is an attorney licensed to practice in Washington state and leads Action Training Group Inc. Contact him with questions, suggestions or to get involved in any of the activities and efforts discussed above.  See firearms lawyer for contact information.

Implementing the the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act



The following opinion answers questions related to questions raised by the WASPC as to whether a municipal law enforcement agency exposes itself to additional liability by certifying retired law enforcement officers as having met Criminal Justice Training Commission standards for firearms qualification. The purpose of the LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS’ SAFETY ACT OF 2004 (18 U.S.C. Sec. 926B and 926C) is to supplement active law enforcement personnel in order to deter crime and prevent terrorist activity. The federal law accomplishes this by anticipating that additional armed law enforcement personnel that have already been trained will be present within each jurisdiction as officers travel from one jurisdiction to another while on business, vacationing or for any other reason. Read more

Criminal Defense Lawyers, Law Enforcement & Use of Force Expert at Cabela’s in Post Falls

On December 1st at Cabela’s in Post Falls, Idaho, we had David Howlett open up our thinking to how SIRT laser technology makes force-on-force Reality Based Training simple and effective.  We now have a link to Next Level Training at which you can purchase a SIRT pistol with a 10% discount and a commission that supports the Action Training Group.  Get the Pro Model with the red & green lasers.

Bob Smith was back. Bob  discussed lethal force issues.  We received overwhelming feedback regarding both of the excellent speakers that night.  Chuck Delgado spoke at our October 20th Action Training Group’s monthly  membership meeting along with the criminal defense lawyers from the Gerlach self-defense trial. The defendant, Gail Gerlach, who was acquitted of manslaughter charges at the Spokane County trial, was also present at our meeting.

One of the themes of the meeting was the impact of the news media before, during and after a self-defense shooting trial in which an armed citizen is accused of unjustified or reckless use of force.  Gail Gerlach’s criminal defense team, Bob Smith, an expert witness on use of force at the Gerlach trial and defense attorney, Mark Knapp, joined in the discussion with Chuck regarding how Chuck shot and killed an unarmed attacker when he was a Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy in 1971.  Chuck was neither charged nor disciplined because the use of force was justified.  Nevertheless, the shooting was contrary to use of force procedures in place in the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office 1971.  He is writing a book about the experience. The following is an After Action Report Mr. Delgado shared with us concerning our October 20th meeting of the Action Training Group at Cabela’s last Friday. Read more

Criminal Defense Lawyers Discuss Use of Force

ATG Membership Meeting. Our monthly Membership Meeting will be at Cabela’s this Friday, Oct. 20th, with the main program starting at 6:00 PM.  Cabela’s meeting room is back by the Deli.  The Deli has good food and will will stay open until 6:00 PM so plan to have dinner with us at Cabela’s.  The networking hour will start at 5:00 PM; the Deli closes at 6:00.  I just learned that Criminal Defense Lawyer David Stevens will be there at 5:00 PM and he has agreed to provide us with some observations related to the Gerlach manslaughter trial. The trial is the subject for three of our speakers.  Defense Lawyer Richard Lee, will talk to us about the trial and media related issues. David Stevens and Mr. Lee were co-counsel for Mr. Gerlach’s criminal defense in the Spokane self-defense shooting trial several years back. Read more

Criminal Defense Team Sends Message to Spokane County

Gerlach Acquittal and the Right to Carry

Gail Gerlach Acquitted of First Degree Manslaughter

Gerlach’s Acquittal Sends Strong Message on self-defense

Criminal defense lawyers in Spokane paid close attention when Gail Gerlach was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter charges. Defense lawyers, Richard Lee and David Stevens, sent a clear message to prosecutors when the Spokane-area resident was acquitted of First Degree Manslaughter for shooting 25 year old Brendon Kaluza-Graham on March 25, 2013. The shot killed Kaluza-Graham who was driving away in Gerlach’s vehicle. Gerlach left the vehicle running while getting ready to take his wife to work.  Read more

Armed Defense Training Association

Gun News – ADTA Article

The Washington Arms Collectors featured the Armed Defense Training Association in the October, 2016 edition of the GunNews.  We asked the author, Ed Streit, the current ADTA President and a founding member of the citizen self-defense group, to send us the article.  The Action Training Group, Inc. in Eastern Washington and North Idaho follows the model created several years ago when the ADTA founders, including Spokane-area criminal defense lawyer, Mark Knapp, first started exploring ways to create a gun range in Federal Way, Washington.  The following is the complete article from the GunNews.

Read more

Introduction to IDPA-and Use of Force at Cabela’s in Post Falls

  Our next ATG Meeting is Friday, December 1st, 2017 at Cabela’s the Action Training Group, an Idaho nonprofit, all volunteer corporation, will present  Use of Force and Washington state Firearms Law.  We recently reviewed how IDPA match shooting procedures relate to our ATG range protocol and objectives. Now we need to start integrating our ATG  range procedures with the legal, practical and tactical considerations that arise in life and death split-second situations when confronted by deadly force.  There are also encounters that can be mistaken for deadly force confrontations where deadly force is not the right decision.  Thus, force-on-force drills are necessary to create stress and confusion in real time scenarios and develop the reactions and judgment that it takes to get it right when the stakes are high!


National Outreach. We also need to start thinking about reaching out to law enforcement and other groups with an interest in the use-of-force issues we are confronting. Carl Chinn’s weekly article addresses the need for us to get involved with a national organization.



Fri, December 1st starting at 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM


Location:   Cabela’s

                    North Cabela Way

                    Post Falls, ID

Event details. 

We invite everyone to come and hear Bob Smith and Mark Knapp speak on Friday, Dec 1st at CABELA’s at 6:00 PM. The social hour is at 5:00 PM. The restaurant normally closes at 6:00 PM but might remain open later during the holidays.  The subject of our ATG meeting next Friday will be Washington firearms law and use of force in general.



David Howlett, of Next Level Training and the U. S. Tactical Rifle Association, will also be giving us a preview of what to expect during the REALITY-BASED force-on-force drills he has prepared for an upcoming event. One of our goals for the ATG is just to identify people with expertise that armed citizens need along with church safety resources.

See David Howlett

We are also promoting the exchange of such information and bringing folks together to encourage more cost-effective training and educational opportunities for churches and armed citizens in general.

We will be presenting indoor live-fire Action Shoots on a Sunday evening, once a month starting in January. Please forward this message to others who might be interested in the ATG or the newsletters. Hope to see everyone one week from tomorrow on Friday, December 1st. Anyone interested can call me or send an email to discuss any questions or ideas related to ATG, Inc., armed defense or church safety.

Watch some IDPA videos by Googling IDPA drills.


We will give you a chance to join our group and invite you just to come out and shoot with us.  We are planning Indoor Action Shoots to start in January.

ATG Meeting in October.  Our October meeting at Cabela’s presented the team of defense lawyers who represented Gail Gerlach in the Spokane Manslaughter trial several years ago. One of the themes of the meeting was the impact of the news media before, during and after a self-defense shooting trial in which an armed citizen is accused of unjustified or reckless use of force.  Gail Gerlach’s criminal defense team, Bob Smith, an expert witness on use of force at the Gerlach trial and defense attorney, Mark Knapp, joined in the discussion with Chuck Delgado regarding how Chuck shot and killed an unarmed attacker when he was a Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy in 1971.

Lethal Force.  If the lethal force available to the police is unduly restricted, the responsibility for armed citizens to deploy deadly force in defense of our own lives and the lives of our loved ones will also become severely restricted.  You may not realize that right now armed citizens in Washington State  have broader authority to use deadly force than LEOs.

According to the Legislative Note included with RCW 9A.16.040:

Legislative recognition: “The legislature recognizes that RCW 9A.16.040 establishes a dual standard with respect to the use of deadly force by peace officers and private citizens, and further recognizes that private citizens’ permissible use of deadly force under the authority of RCW 9.01.200, 9A.16.020, or 9A.16.050 is not restricted and remains broader than the limitations imposed on peace officers.”

Bring family and friends to Cabela’s on December 1st.

Use of Deadly Force: the Unarmed Assailant

Shooting 1971 Summary.    The following is a summary of information presented by one of our members at our monthly Action Training Group meeting in July. The purpose of the presentation in Spokane Valley was to initiate discussion about self-defense issues so we can start creating Reality Based scenarios that develop situational awareness for armed citizens, church safety teams and law enforcement personnel in the Spokane and North Idaho areas.  Criminal defense attorneys & civil practitioners also need to understand the dynamics of what actually occurs during the decision making process under high stress situations. Read more

He Trains My Hands to Protect the Body of Christ

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 dealing with church safety & liability issues from a book entitled He Trains My Hands for Battle.

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Ezekiel 3:17-18

Training Your Security Team. The number of professional training firms has grown. One of the most well recognized national ministries in the field of church security is Sheepdog Ministries. Your team needs to participate in regular Reality Based Training (RBT) to avoid exposure to the risk of church liability. Such events involve volunteer actors playing roles such as an active shooter, innocent bystander, plain clothes law enforcement officer who enters the room with weapon drawn, etc, These events normally require simulated ammunition or Simunition or might even be conducted with SIRT laser pistols which do not use simunition. The key is to create the stress of a chaotic life threatening event that causes team members to react to foreseeable situations.

Well recognized legal precedents provide that law enforcement agencies that fail to train for foreseeable situations will be held liable.

Firearms and use of Force Training: Training must be tailored to avoid specific church liabilities in a safe and caring atmosphere.  Potential church liability is a compelling factor when anticipating the allegation that armed school personnel are not in compliance with the guidelines for law enforcement officers spelled out by the U.S Supreme Court in Popow vs Margate, 476 F.Supp. 1237 (Dist. N.J. 1979) (Officer’s firearms training of going to a range twice a year; no training with respect to low light conditions, moving targets or firing in residential areas. Entirely foreseeable that an officer from the City of Margate, a largely residential area, would have to pursue a moving suspect at night under low-light conditions). See also Young v. City of Providence, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1847 (R.I. 2004).  Read more

Brief in Support of Retired LEO Denied Federal LEOSA Card

Petitioner has standing and states a claim upon which relief may be granted because LEOSA and the Administrative Procedure Act is appropriate for the relief sought. Johnson v. New York State Dep’t of Corr. Servs presents facts that are very different from the facts presented herein.  In Johnson, the Plaintiffs asserted a right to carry under LEOSA.  The court  held that Congress did not intend to create a private cause of action, but rather a private right. The Johnson court stated:

For the same reasons as with consideration of the second Cort factor, the creation of a federal remedy would be inconsistent with LEOSA’s statutory scheme because Congress left the states with the authority to issue concealed firearm certifications. Therefore, this factor also weighs against the determination that Congress intended to establish a private cause of action.

Johnson, supra (emphasis added).  Read more