Proposed Uniform School Marshals Legislation for Washington & Other States

School Marshals—Training Standards—Certification—Immunity from Liability. The following discussion includes certain draft proposals that we are proposing as uniform School Marshal legislation for all the states to consider. The language is cast in terms of Washington state but provides a template that can easily be adapted to other states. The advantage of providing training programs thatContinue reading “Proposed Uniform School Marshals Legislation for Washington & Other States”

Implementing the Law Enforcement Officers’ 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.

The Act authorizes retired officers and active police officers from outside of each jurisdiction to carry a concealed firearm within each and every jurisdiction of the United States; thus, increasing the likelihood that an armed officer will be present if deadly force is presented on the roads or in any other location where the traveling officer from outside a given jurisdiction may be. The retired officer must qualify annually per the standards that officers are required to meet for firearms proficiency within the agency from which he or she retired. For a retired officer to carry a weapon in all fifty states, the federal statute requires:

“… a certification issued by the State in which the individual resides that indicates that the individual has, not less recently than one year before the date the individual is carrying the concealed firearm, been tested or otherwise found by the State to meet the standards established by the State for training and qualification for active law enforcement officers to carry a firearm of the same type as the concealed firearm.”

Emphasis added.

The LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS’ SAFETY ACT OF 2004 is an aid to law enforcement and the public that costs the state or the federal government very little because the training has already been provided at the state level and each retired officer essentially becomes a volunteer who must pay the cost of maintaining his/her qualifications at the state and/or local level.

RCW 36.28A.090 reads in part:

Firearms certificates for qualified retired law enforcement officers.

(1) The purpose of this section is to establish a process for issuing firearms certificates to residents of Washington who are qualified retired law enforcement officers for the purpose of satisfying the certification requirements contained in the federal law enforcement officers safety act of 2004 (118 Stat. 865; 18 U.S.C. Sec. 926B and 926C).

(2) The Washington association of sheriffs and police chiefs shall develop a firearms certificate form to be used by local law enforcement agencies when issuing firearms certificates to retired law enforcement officers under this section.

(3) A retired law enforcement officer who is a resident of Washington may apply for a firearms certificate with a local law enforcement agency. The local law enforcement agency may issue the firearms certificate to a retired law enforcement officer if the officer:

(a) Has been qualified or otherwise found to meet the standards established by the criminal justice training commission for firearms qualifications for active law enforcement officers in the state; and…


A. Does the LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS’ SAFETY ACT OF 2004 (hereinafter the Act) provide an opportunity for citizens and law enforcement agencies across the United States to acquire additional security at little or no additional cost to state, local and federal governments in taxpayer funds and potential liability?

B. Does qualifying and certification of a retired officer incur more potential liability than qualifying active police officers?

C. Is there a reasonable basis not to implement the provisions of state and federal law outlined above based on potential liability or any other issues?


A well known police organization has actively advocated that police agencies in Washington State not certify retired officers under RCW 36.28A.090 because of alleged liability issues. As a general rule licensing and permitting does not incur liability absent exceptional circumstances or a so-called “special relationship” with a person or group who is adversely impacted by improper certification at a level below that of the policy-making decision to develop such a process. Washington courts apply the “public duty doctrine” in order to determine whether a decision is at a policy-making level and therefore immune from liability claims.

Even at the “mechanical” level where a police firearms instructor determines whether official standards have been met, there needs to be a specific individual or group relying on the testing officials determination (as opposed to the public at-large in order to create a potential for liability. Since no such relationship exists when an officer or retired officer qualifies, the alleged potential for liability does not exist. Those advocating against certification of retired officers need to answer two questions:

1. Is the basis of the alleged potential for liability based on ageism?

2. Where is the evidence of any liability against local law enforcement agencies based on certification that an officer has qualified under state standards for firearms proficiency?

Most jurisdictions, including Washington State, already provide for retired officers to qualify and continue carrying within the state. This would be similar to issuing a concealed carry permit. Thus, the question can be formulated- Where again is the evidence of any agency incurring liability by issuing concealed carry permits or by any qualifying retired officers to carry a weapon within the State of Washington and why should carrying outside the state increase the potential for such alleged liability?

The answer to all of the questions raised above is that the potential for increased liability is virtually non-existent. The true rationale behind the position that some groups are taking is a political agenda that seeks to maintain the myth that armed private individuals cannot deter crime or protect themselves or the public; i.e., an anti-gun agenda.

Where there is no “special relationship” creating a duty to a class of people that have relied on a permit, potential liability does not exist. The courts in Washington look to the manner and extent of contact between the government official and the member of the public in order to decide whether such a special relationship exists. The courts also look to how explicit any assurance is made to the specific class of persons that may rely on a permit, license or certification. J& B DEV. CO. V. KING COUNTY, 100 WN.2D 299, 669 P.2D 468 (1983).

In J & B Development, the court held that a breach of a governmental duty owed only to the public as a whole cannot be the basis for a cause of action. See also RCW 4.96.010. Prior to J & B DEVELOPMENT, the Washington legislature had abolished most governmental immunity. In J & B Development, a building inspector was held to have a duty to the builder based on the special relationship created by issuance of a negligent building permit. The governmental entity breached a duty owed to the plaintiff as an individual rather than to the public at large.

The Public Duty Doctrine provides an exception to the general rule in Washington. The general rule is that the state and its subdivisions can be sued on any basis for which a private citizen may be sued. See RCW 4.96.010. Despite the waiver of sovereign immunity contained in RCW 4.96.010, the Public Duty Doctrine requires that a claimant suing a governmental agency or municipality must establish the breach of a duty owed by a governmental entity specifically to an individual or group making a claim. See WASHINGTON STATE’S 45-YEAR EXPERIMENT IN GOVERNMENTAL LIABILITY, by Michael Tardif & Rob McKenna. Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 29, Fall 2005.

The act of testing and issuing a certificate is in the nature of a “ministerial” or “operational” function. Nevertheless, the fact that the Washington State Legislature has provided that “…The qualification required under [subsection] (3)(a) of this section may be performed by the local law enforcement agency or by an individual or entity certified to provide firearms training” creates a discretionary, policy-making characteristic to an agency’s certification under state law. See RCW 36.28A.090. Thus, the discretion involved in creating a local certification process decision brings the decision under the immunity provided by the Public Duty Doctrine.

The fact that 18 USC 926(c) and the above referenced state law are promulgated for broad public safety purposes and not for the purpose of creating a duty to specific class eliminates liability for the decision. Therefore there is no valid argument that potential liability exists by certifying that retired officers have met the standards of the Criminal Justice training Commission. On the other hand, the benefit to the national public may be immense. The benefit to the people of Washington State accrues as armed police officers from other states travel in Washington; i.e., the benefit is derived from reciprocation as sister states implement the Act.

It is a well recognized principle of tort law that a fundamental element of actionable negligence is the existence of a duty owed by the person charged with negligence to the one injured. E. McQuillin, SUPRA. To be actionable, the duty owed must focus on the one injured, not on the public at large. To sustain an action against an individual, it is necessary to determine whether one is under a duty to a claimant as opposed to the general public. Similarly, to sustain an action against a municipality it is necessary to decide whether a municipality is under a general duty to a nebulous public or whether that duty has focused on the claimant.

J & B Development, supra.
The rationale of the “public duty doctrine” has historically been (1) prevention of excessive governmental liability and (2) the need to avoid hindering the governing process. Nevertheless, in J & B Development, the court stated:

“…the “public duty doctrine” has a third logical application in tort litigation. A duty to the public in general is usually considered a duty to no one in particular (I.E., the “public duty doctrine”). When considered in combination with the “special relationship” rule, however, it becomes a mechanism for focusing upon whether a duty is actually owed an individual claimant rather than the public at large. The “special relationship” rule is in fact the focusing tool. Assum(ing) a county voting registrar has a duty to refrain from registering nonresidents… it would be difficult, if not impossible, for an individual citizen to recover in tort against the County for the negligent violation of that duty.”

No liability is presented where the act, omission, or decision to certify involves a basic governmental policy, program, or objective. The act of a county or municipality exercising discretion explicitly provided by state law requires the exercise of a basic policy evaluation, judgment, and expertise on the part of the agency. Said discretion is essential to the realization of federal and Washington state policy; and is within the proper authority and duty of law enforcement agencies.

The act of an agent of a governmental entity shown to have been done in an arbitrary and capricious manner, or decided upon without considering the facts involved, may not be classified as a discretionary function and is not entitled to exemption from liability.
The fact that the state legislature has provided authority via RCW 36.28A.090 for local municipalities to implement federal law for the benefit of the public at-large raises an issue as to whether liability can exist where a certificate is issued in an arbitrary and capricious manner and foreseeable harm results. In the unlikely event that a court identifies a duty predicated on the requisite special relationship, any potential liability would be no greater than that which presently exists by certifying active police officers for duty.

“The state of Washington, whether acting in its governmental or proprietary capacity, shall be liable for damages arising out of its tortious conduct to the same extent as if it were a private person or corporation.” See EVANGELICAL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH V. STATE, 67 Wn.2d 246, 253, 407 P.2d 440 (1965) (it is necessary to determine where, in the governmental process orthodox tort liability stops and the act of governing begins).

According to EVANGELICAL CHURCH, at page 254:

“Liability cannot be imposed when condemnation of the acts or omissions relied upon necessarily brings into question the propriety of governmental objectives or programs or the decision of one who, with the authority to do so, determined that the acts or omissions involved should occur or that the risk which eventuated should be encountered for the advancement of governmental objectives.”

EVANGELICAL CHURCH at page 255 states four preliminary questions that are relevant to determining whether an act was a discretionary governmental process:

(1)“Does the challenged act, omission, or decision necessarily involve a basic governmental policy, program, or objective?

(2) Is the questioned act, omission, or decision essential to the realization or accomplishment of that policy, program, or objective as opposed to one which would not change the course or direction of the policy, program, or objective?

(3) Does the act, omission, or decision require the exercise of basic policy evaluation, judgment, and expertise on the part of the governmental agency involved? (4) Does the governmental agency involved possess the requisite constitutional, statutory, or lawful authority and duty to do or make the challenged act, omission, or decision?”


Therefore, in view of the federal and state mandates that confer discretionary governmental authority to implement certification, municipal law enforcement agencies are immune from liability. The arguments that are advanced related to potential liability are either disguised prejudice against retired officers (based on age) or are based on biases against private citizens being armed. After all, the rationale of the LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS’ SAFETY ACT OF 2004 is that armed citizens can make a difference, a rationale that runs directly contrary to the “consensus” that citizens with weapons are more of a danger to themselves or others than to the bad guys.

To be entitled to immunity, the state must make a showing that such a policy decision, consciously balancing risks and advantages, took place. The author’s opinion herein can be particularly relied on by Washington State municipalities and law enforcement agencies due to the fact that the Legislature clearly made the decision to implement the certification process a local determination within the discretion of municipal governments.

It goes without saying that refusal to clearly look at the benefits set forth herein may frustrate an inexpensive public safety initiative with the potential for resulting loss of life. Such irresponsible public administration would raise the specter of real political liability in light of the potential for mass shootings and future terrorist acts that predictably may involve small arms.

See also a MESSAGE from Durango, Colorado’s Police Chaplain.

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,Continue reading “Use of Deadly Force: the Unarmed Assailant”

Shooting Sports In North Idaho

Many people don’t realize just how vibrant social life can be in North Idaho. I penned my Firearms Lawyer column in the Federal Way Mirror for four years and occasionally have had opportunities to attend some Chamber of Commerce events and meet some of the local celebrities- mostly politicians and their camp followers. At such functions my political positions probably seem like a throwback to the days when Wyatt Earp sojourned in the Northwest and Neanderthals still roamed the earth.

I also shoot competitively in USPSA events, IDPA and 3-gun competition. But rarely have I enjoyed the degree of fellowship and good food that overflowed at several gatherings I attended last weekend in and around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

I went first to my client’s home and several of us shot IPSC targets. One of the best things about living in Eastern Washington and North Idaho is that you can step right out of your house and get some target practice. When it is really cold, like it was last week, some folks just open the window a few inches and shoot without leaving the warmth of their living rooms!

We were practicing on some of the same courses of fire that we would shoot at the Spokane Rifle Club on the following Sunday. The Inland Northwest Action Shooters just started shooting at SRC, which has a very well equipped indoor range and outdoor ranges that are spread out along the Spokane River. The competitors at the match raised funds for military families and INAS served great Asian cuisine from Chan Bistro on Argonne Road.

Many of the INAS shooters are also members of 3-Gun Nation which provided a Remington Versa Max shotgun for members who had previously shot 3-Gun Nation qualifiers. 3-Gun Nation has brought the sport of 3-gun to television and may be the fastest growing shooting sport around the U.S. Nothing will preserve our gun rights better than the excitement of action shooting coming into people’s homes via their big screen televisions.

3-gun matches were first held by the people that published Soldier of Fortune magazine. The sport features contestants that aim to become one man armies- or one woman armies- with shotguns, pistols and rifles shot at steel and paper at distances that go from in-your face close quarter combat distances to out beyond 800 yards.

The fact that a whole breed of high tech optics has become available for 3-gun shooting means that big prize money and media exposure are on their way.

On Saturday night, I attended a dinner and business meeting with the Fernan Rod & Gun Club at the Coeur d’Alene Inn. By the way, North Idahoans will soon be able to participate in 3-gun because it is coming to the Fernan club in April. However, much of the discussion during the club’s business meeting pertained to environmental assessments that the club is conducting for the U.S. Forest Service.

The FERNAN ROD & GUN CLUB is an Idaho non-profit organization established in 1989 in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game. FRGC encourages family participation in matches and activities and is also a joint civilian, military, and police firing range facility. It is the only range with such a partnership in Idaho and one of the few of this type in the United States.

People need to think about what that means. Many residents of Kootenai County move from other places and may not appreciate how important shooting sports are to the well being of our local economy, law enforcement agencies like the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and even for the federal government. Federal agencies like the Border Patrol (ICE) understand how critical the Fernan range is to their efforts to police our borders and keep Americans safe from an assortment of threats.

The fact that it can cost thousands of dollars to perform environmental tests and comply with so many state, federal and local requirements may not be what discouraged at least one local North Idaho sheriff’s department from acquiring land for a range. Bob Smith, who founded the Fernan club almost twenty-five years ago, told me that what deterred the Kootenai Sheriff’s Office from developing its own range was probably urban encroachment, not necessarily environmental issues.

Pierce County, Washington recently enacted a range preservation law. Bob pointed out to me that Idaho has also had a range protection law for some time that refers to “sporting use”. The use of such verbiage may help get such legislation passed. Nevertheless, kowtowing to political correctness means that a law enforcement range like the one in Meridian would not be protected under the language of the law because it is a training facility and not for “sporting use”.

The Idaho legislature has also made it a matter of law and public policy to support firearms related business activities. Thus, a new and improved range creation and preservation law may be a mandate that is for which it has become timely for lawmakers in Boise (and local North Idaho counties) to start campaigning!

Everyone I met agreed that it is time for the Idaho legislature and the federal government to get serious about empowering private enterprise and government agencies to create the kind of ranges that will draw big events to North Idaho and keep our citizens, LEOs and armed forces in peak form.

I am not sure what it will take to persuade bureaucrats to ease up on expensive environmental assessments and zoning impediments. There is a lot more to say on these and other subjects related to range development so we welcome feedback. Constructing major shooting venues in North Idaho is what many of the upcoming articles will be about in further installations of the Firearms Lawyer blog.

See Sandpoint PR magazine.

Terror at Beslan; Our Schools Are Targeted for Terror Attacks


People need to make the decision to prepare for deadly force now, not when the attack precipitates. By then, it will be too late.”

Read Israel’s answer to school violence.

Schools and school buses are probably under surveillance by terrorists and being “pinged” in order to measure reactions and identify security measures.

Every active shooter attack in a school, mall or other public place provides data for terrorists who study news reports and publicly available studies conducted by security experts. Beslan was a slaughter of school children in Russia that was probably a dress rehearsal for the rape, slaughter and torture of young school children in the U.S. The attacks on innocent people conducted by Al Qaeda affiliates, like al AShabaab’s attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya may be harbingers of how future operations in the U.S. might look.

The school attack in Beslan has been carefully analyzed in John Giduck’s study. Entitled Terror at Beslan, Giduck’s warnings detail the importance, but also the pitfalls, when armed citizens react to terrorist attacks. Both the attack at Beslan and the Westgate Mall attack demonstrate how helpless governments become in the face of well-armed terrorists working in teams.

Beslan came under attack from Chechen terrorists that had already made up their minds not to negotiate and to inflict the maximum amount of pain on Russian school children by unleashing torture, death and pysychological damage to the survivors and the Russian people. The terrorists demanded opportunities to negotiate. Such demands were only issued in order to deceive the Russian authorities into providing more time for the terrorists to wire school buildings with bombs.

Security personnel and operatives on the side of terrorist groups study every aspect of how the authorities and media respond to such attacks. This includes reaction time, vulnerabilities, follow up, etc. John Giduck was in Russia at the time the attack on the Beslan school occurred and was able to work closely with Russian security forces during the immediate aftermath of the attack. The book also got the author banned from Russia because of his honest criticism of what the Russian security forces did wrong. Eleven men from Russia’s elite Alpha and Vympel Counter Terror units lost their lives saving 1,181 hostages- 777 of them children.

The attack began on Sept. 1, 2004. The school was destroyed in an explosion and 334 were killed, 186 of the dead were children and many that survived witnessed horror that will scar them forever. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has long warned that it COULD happen here, there are things you and I can do to prevent such attacks and it could be YOUR child’s life that you save.

John Giduck suggests what we can do as parents and as concerned citizens that are not in the law enforcement or intelligence communities. Mr. Giduck is a trial lawyer who also holds the highest level certification in Homeland Security. He works with a non-profit NGO, the Archangel Group, consulting with law enforcement and other agencies in the field of anti-terrorist training and has spent considerable time gaining first hand expertise on Russia’s security operations.

Giduck’s recognition of the role armed citizens can play in responding to terrorist activities should silence very anti-gun idealogue. After the events in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall attack, refusing to acknowlege the need for armed security in our schools is tantamount to giving aid and comfort to terrorists! Even an Interpol chief has now publicly proposed that armed citizens are one of the few options available to stop terrorist attacks like the one at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Almost every attack has been in a “gun-free” zone. Thus, the murderer knows that it is unlikely any of his or her victims will be armed. At the present time, the Washington Administrative Code, promulgated by unelected bureaucrats, prohibits weapons on campus in Washington. It is questionable whether the WAC regulations have any legal effect since they conflict with Washington State’s firearms preemption law that prohibits any local municipal gun laws more restrictive than the restrictions in the state RCWs.

Some liberal lawyers and anti-gunners in Olympia want to get a new law passed to “clarify” the situation. No one wants to be a test case and you could get expelled from your state university for carrying. Each student in a state college or university has to make an informed decision as to whether to exercise his or her right to carry on campus with a valid carry license pursuant to our state laws.

It is your life and your education that is at stake. There is no right to carry at a high school or elementary school with or without a license to carry, at this time. But write to your representatives and demand that something be done like what is starting to take place in Oregon and other states that have empowered certain armed volunteers to carry in schools.
Most restrictions only restrict law- abiding people and not criminals, psychopaths and terrorists. If a disturbed person would gun down a defenseless child, that same person will pay no attention to a law restricting guns.

In fact, the gun-free status of the institution or facility makes it a target for the psychopathic killer.

The individuals in our colleges and universities that need to be the first line of defense>, however, are the students, instructors and staff with either concealed carry permits or specialized training.

Elementary, high school and middle school personnel may need a new kind of training with a special license indicating some advanced tactical training for active-shooter situations. Most of the security guards that do provide a presence at such places are unarmed security guards, however, and the expense of hiring enough armed security is prohibitive.

Revenge or anything like vigilante action is the worst possible thing anyone can do and advocating or engaging in retaliation is criminal conduct.

True Followers of Christ will not engage in murdering innocent people but many Americans may be carried away with the concept of imprisoning or taking revenge against Islamic people in the same way as Japanese were interned during WW II.

The same “liberals” that already want to restrict our gun rights and disarm honest people may be holding the reins of power if and when the country faces the chaos of a WMD, Mumbai-style tactical teams terrorizing our communities or some other disaster.

On the other hand, the jihadist believes that in a few generations a Caliphate will force you to submit (that is what Islam means- subjection) to its religious laws.

Many of the U.S. authorities are presently so eager to accomodate Islamicists (and are so intimidated by CAIR’s threats of legal action) that Christianity is being denigrated while Islam is celebrated in the name of diversity. There are many examples but sufficient to state for now that these are the first steps toward submission.

Self-defense and defense of others when attacked is not vigilantiism.

Make sure you recognize your school bus drivers and ask your local school district to provide for some staff to become trained and certified to carry weapons.

We need to take precautions similar to the Israeli schools and schools in other countries like Thailand where the staff is armed and ready for jihad. Meanwhile get your permit and learn how to shoot.

Some of our neighbors in Federal Way are preparing to provide opportunities for teachers and other school professionals to learn to work tactically so that they are trained when the authorization to carry in our local schools finally comes. It does not take an act of the Congess or the legislature. Federal and state lawmakers have left it up to local school boards!

First Aid for Emergency Personnel & Armed Citizens in Federal Way


I recently enjoyed the privilege of attending a National Tactical Officers Association convention in Seattle. My friend David Howlett from Next Level Training invited me to come over and see what the SWAT operators were checking out at the Washington State Convention Center. There were mobile fortresses that insert law enforcement onto buildings and all kinds of electronics, robots, First Aid systems, weapons and other equipment that most of us only get to see in movies!

Next Level Training, for example, makes the SIRT training pistol. Their core product is a laser pistol that has the same pull as a Glock pistol. The trigger is exactly like a Glock trigger and provides great dry fire training for LEOs and anyone else. This trigger time develops that smooth trigger pull that makes for success on the range.

Dan Goede and I went up to Bellingham area last spring to meet Mike Hughes, CEO of NLT, and look at the SIRT pistols for the Armed Defense Training Association. Mike is a USPSA-IPSC Grand Master, a patent law attorney and looks like he could easily star in an action movie! He was also a runner up on Top Shot- the season before last.

Agencies all around the U.S. and beyond purchase large numbers of SIRT pistols and contract with the NLT team to train law enforcement instructors in the SIRT training systems.

I also spent some time at the tactical show looking at simulated ammunition for reality-based tactical training and robots that conduct surveillance and remote control equipment for picking up bombs.

But the most practical items for most of us that are not in law enforcement would be the numerous First Aid systems that were displayed at several of the booths. Most of us don’t expect to become victims of gun fire but recent history has demonstrated that public places in America can become battle zones when we least expect it! Emergency preparedness requires good first aid supplies and planning for a number of contingencies that we hope will never materialize.

The tragic slaughter of moviegoers in Colorado also demonstrated that EMTs and other first responders are often poorly equipped to go into a crime scene and administer first aid- especially where an active shooter may be mixing in with a crowd of panic stricken victims. It has been said that there are three categories of people in such situations- wolves, sheep and sheep dogs.

If you want to be the sheep kind of person, you look for other sheep behind which to hide when the wolves come. A sheep dog, on the other hand, has to always be thinking about how to protect the sheep. That means knowing how to administer First Aid during an emergency.

You may even have to perform First Aid on yourself if things get really bad. Recent history in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown that more members of the armed forces have survived gun shot wounds than in previous wars because of new bandages that stop bleeding as soon as they are applied.

We have discussed CONTOMS in a previous column and there is a definite call for EMTs, firefighters and other first responders to be tactically trained with firearms. I learned recently that the National Park Service is training some of its personnel in CONTOMS. Many of our neighbors in Federal Way that have completed CERT training have some medical training also carry a gun as part of their daily routine.

That is one of the reasons that the ADTA exists- to bring armed citizens together in Federal Way and acquire better sheep dog skills. Hopefully, however, the police, the firefighters and the EMTs will always show up on time to handle the really big emergencies. The worst case scenarios are the ones where the first responders are so busy responding that you have to depend on your own resources to preserve and protect your family.

Kids, Competition & Guns in Federal Way: Training is Important to Character


A friend sent me an email asking whether he can bring his 10-year-old son to the Armed Defense Training Association event on May 3.

He and his son have been watching “Top Shot” since the show’s second season and have been cheering for Federal Way Police Cmdr. Kyle Sumpter this season.

I told my friend that the ADTA is still discussing ways for youth to get involved in actual shooting events. Meanwhile, we encourage parents to bring kids of all ages to hear our local “Top Shot” contestant talk about his experience on the popular History Channel program.

I expect that some members of the community will object to the idea of even talking to kids about guns. Movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Star Wars” deal with violent conflict.

But there is a difference in the minds of many of us. Maybe the difference is that bow and arrow, swords and light sabers have a certain mythical quality?

On the other hand, firearms are a hard reality on the streets of our cities and even in our schools. The fact that many people only see guns in movies is another factor that might cause many soccer moms to say “I don’t want my kids learning about guns.” Many action movies feature more blood and gore than most combat veterans see during their tours of duty.

As one school principal in Federal Way stated to me, “We don’t want to send the wrong message to our kids”. So why do we want to have our youth listening to a top police officer talk to the community about competing with all kinds of weapons, including military assault weapons and pistols that are designed not for hunting and other sports, but primarily to kill human beings?

I will use Dustin Ellermann as Exhibit A to make my point. Ellermann was the winner last season on “Top Shot.” According to “Top Shot” host Colby Donaldson, “Dustin may be the best shooter we ever had.” Everyone agrees that Dustin’s character made Season 3 very dramatic. The 28-year-old from Zavalla, Texas, probably has contributed a great deal to the show becoming one of the more popular programs on television.

Dustin taught himself to shoot at Camp His Way, a summer Christian kids’ camp where he is the director. He and his wife are foster parents and have three children of their own. The fact that he taught himself to shoot raises the question of how Dustin was so successful competing against the some of the world’s best shooters, including Navy Seals, USPSA champions and some elite law enforcement types. “Shooting is fun to me,” Dustin stated at one point. “I thank the Lord for the opportunity to be on ‘Top Shot’ and to now be able to share my passion for shooting.”

Dustin wasn’t just giving the kind of lip service to God that you often see on Monday Night Football or when Oscars and Emmy Awards are being handed out. Dustin’s demeanor and conversation on television were all about his commitment to the value of faith. Watch Dustin shoot and you will witness the discipline and sheer joy that he now wants to impart by organizing clinics for youth shooters.

The same combination of gentle strength and steady focus is apparent when you watch Kyle Sumpter leading his Red Team through various ordeals and challenges.

As you watch “Top Shot,” it soon becomes apparent that the study of character and group dynamics is a more important reason for the show’s success than flash and bang.

Think about how many movies and television shows feature the flash and bang formula — and how few ever attract a real audience. Yes, “Dancing With the Stars” also displays the character of the contestants.

Soccer, karate and other sports develop character and also put leadership on display. Teaching your son or daughter to handle a gun safely and effectively, however, will create confidence that in many ways is more practical than the alternatives.

If training with guns is not practical and important, why do taxpayers get so upset every time the politicians tell us they are going to cut down on the number of officers patrolling our streets?

The free public meeting was hosted by Jim Petrelli in his classroom at Genesis Real Estate School in Federal Way.

Over 100 of our neighbors attended. See more photos at Ed Streit Images.

Deadly Force Training

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.

The Act authorizes retired officers and active police officers from any jurisdiction within the United States to carry a concealed firearm within any jurisdiction of the United States; thus, increasing the likelihood that an armed officer will be present if circumstances warrant appropriate use of armed force. The retired officer must qualify annually per the standards that officers are required to meet for firearms proficiency within the agency from which he or she retired. For a retired officer to carry a weapon in all fifty states, the federal statute requires:

“… a certification issued by the State in which the individual resides that indicates that the individual has, not less recently than one year before the date the individual is carrying the concealed firearm, been tested or otherwise found by the State to meet the standards established by the State for training and qualification for active law enforcement officers to carry a firearm of the same type as the concealed firearm.”

The LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS’ SAFETY ACT OF 2004 is an aid to law enforcement and the public that costs the state or the federal government very little because the training has already been provided at the state level and each retired officer essentially becomes a volunteer who must pay the cost of maintaining his/her qualifications at the state and/or local level.

RCW 36.28A.090 reads in part:

Firearms certificates for qualified retired law enforcement officers.

(1) The purpose of this section is to establish a process for issuing firearms certificates to residents of Washington who are qualified retired law enforcement officers for the purpose of satisfying the certification requirements contained in the federal law enforcement officers safety act of 2004 (118 Stat. 865; 18 U.S.C. Sec. 926B and 926C).

(2) The Washington association of sheriffs and police chiefs shall develop a firearms certificate form to be used by local law enforcement agencies when issuing firearms certificates to retired law enforcement officers under this section.

(3) A retired law enforcement officer who is a resident of Washington may apply for a firearms certificate with a local law enforcement agency. The local law enforcement agency may issue the firearms certificate to a retired law enforcement officer if the officer:

(a) Has been qualified or otherwise found to meet the standards established by the criminal justice training commission for firearms qualifications for active law enforcement officers in the state; and…

We have produced a legal opinion letter that we will make available to any law enforcement agency in Washington State.

Liability for Mistakes in Low-Light Environments

Nevertheless, the question of liability for officer shootings in situations where justifiable use of deadly force becomes an issue is a very common situation for officers that needs to be addressed at a number of different levels according to experts.

The following information is from the Police Policy Studies Council and Law Enforcement News (a publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY):

Police shootings involving unarmed suspects often occur in a darkened setting. Many law enforcement agencies do not train their officers how to shoot under such conditions.

According to the Houston Chronicle, 59 percent of the 189 shootings that occurred in Harris County from 1999-2004 occurred between sunset and sunrise. In at least five cases involving unarmed suspects officers appeared to have mistaken an object for a gun in low light.

Research conducted in Los Angeles County, Baltimore County and New York City by Tom Aveni, a sworn officer, and trainer with the New Hampshire-based Police Policy Studies Council, turned up similar results.

Since most shootings occur under low light conditions, it makes sense for armed citizens and police officers to get specialized training in low-light combat shooting tecniques. The Firearms Academy of Seattle provides such training along with training in most aspects of rifle, pistol and shot gun tactics.

Although most state officer training only requires qualifying under daylight conditions that bear little resemblance to the environment in which police officers do their job, the study indicates that such training is critical.

In many if not most of these shootings, the low light conditions are such that a cell phone is mistaken for a gun especially where the suspect acts in such a way that the suspect’s body language is interpreted as intense or aggressive.

“When I see officers getting into trouble, it’s because they’re shooting at things they haven’t clearly identified.”

David Klinger, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, and the author of “Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s-Eye View of Deadly Force,” believes that as much information as can be gleaned from real-life situations should be integrated into training.

“I can’t say that no police are ever trained [in low-light conditions], but it’s a training issue where many officers don’t get the opportunity to fire under those circumstances, absolutely.” He told LEN. “We want to make our training as realistic as possible so police officers are able to have spent some time in a variety of environments if they find themselves having to make a life and death decision. To the extent to which officers are not getting realistic training is the extent to which we’re not preparing them as well as we should.”

Just shooting at targets is not the kind of training that is needed in order to protect the officer and the public from the shootings that occur with a great deal of frequency, usually under low light conditions. Many shooting schools provide low light training for officers and non-police civilians; e.g., Firearms Academy of Seattle.

One example of an innovation that augments the traditional firearms training is the situation created at a recent IPSIC competition at Paul Bunyan Shooting Range in Puyallup. I participated in a scenario that created the sort of chaos present in the street environments faced by officers in real life where we started out in a mocked-up drivers seat, exited from a vehicle while engaging multiple targets that were behind partial cover and shot at moving targets.

Another situation involves engaging targets where lights may be bright in one room, dark in another and you have to move from a low-light environment to a brightly lit room.

I recently completed the defensive handgun class at FAS in which we were introduced to low-light combat techniques and learned the basics of shooting from cover. The low-light training is conducted in a darkened room with dimmer-controlled lighting. We learned two different methods of deploying a flashlight while shooting. The learning curve is rapid at FAS and by the end of the two day class all of us were shooting multiple shots with accuracy and speed that I never expected to achieve even after quite a bit of previous training and competition.

Incidentally, experts like Massad Ayoob recommend IPSIC and IDPA competitions because the degree of stress engendered in racing through multiple targets creates enough stress that a shooter begins to function like he will under the extreme stress of a gun fight. Continuing to function after your gun jams is a matter of survival that is inculcated by such competitions in which you find yourself racing through a maze of targets, making tactical decisions as to when to load another magazine and which target to engage first.

Perpetrators tend to run in packs and malfunctions are almost inevitable, especially during rapid fire shooting. Good shooters continue to move while they clear a jam (or stay behind cover). And the first rule in real life combat is that the situation is constantly changing. You may look up and find an innocent bystander standing in the doorway from which shots were fired a moment before. The ability to keep on thinking and functioning in these situations develops from constant repitition under stress with a professional trainer to push you past your normal limits of endurance.

Competition will also get you out there pushing your comfort level. So what makes the difference between officers that survive gunfights and those who don’t survive or make critical mistakes at the expense of unarmed civilians?

“The answer, simply put: ‘It is the difference in training.’ ”

Armed Defense Training Association’s Events at Paul Bunyan

We canceled the Law of Armed Defense Class previously scheduled for April 2 but will be announcing the new date and location very soon. Watch the ADTA calendar page for this and other upcoming events.

Members of the Armed Defense Training Association recently participated in two live-fire events at Paul Bunyan Range in Puyallup. Dave Farrow and Bruce Wood, both experienced USPSA competitors and Range Officers, ran the courses of fire for the ADTA. Additionally, Dave is President of Paul Bunyan and Chairman of USPSA activities at Paul Bunyan.

At the first event, on March 23rd, Dave explained the rules for using the action bays at Paul Bunyan and a safety-check. Safety-checks are critical for any shooters that want to shoot-on-the-move because there is more going on than most of us have experienced in normal target practice and it is absolutely essential to understand the range commands, procedures and rules that keep everyone safe.

Some ADTA members still don’t have the right equipment. Choosing a firearm is an entirely personal decision. Nevertheless, .44 magnums, .22 pistols and .380s are not ideal for normal self-defense purposes. Most police departments require officers to carry a round that is at least .38 caliber. I have seen USPSA and IDPA competitors shoot revolvers much faster than most of us shoot semi-automatics. The speed with which a revolver can be reloaded would surprise most of the critics that want to ban high capacity magazines.

It is true, however, that most of us can reload a semi-auto faster than we can reload a revolver. If you choose to bring a revolver to an action shoot, you should have some speed loaders or moon clips and start practicing how to reload on the move.

And think about your holster, too. Some shooters showed up without any holster. If you are on a budget, Uncle Mike’s has very good Kydex holsters for all calibers. Outside the waistband holsters are safer for action shooting and will be required by ADTA in most instances. You can invest in a good inside the waistband leather holster for everyday concealed carry. I have several but increasingly wear OWB under my suit coat. IWB holsters are often needed for casual wear during hot weather when you won’t be wearing a coat.

We have to make sure we keep our muzzles pointed away from the top of the berms. One accidental discharge that gets over the top of the berm will destroy years of hard work by many generations of shooters that built Paul Bunyan.

We had twelve ADTA members participate in the second event, on Wednesday March 30th, including a few that shot on the previous Wednesday. We had some very experienced shooters and some inexperienced shooters, too.

Bruce administered safety-checks and Dave got us shooting a course of fire that was very similar to a relatively easy USPSA course of fire. We engaged multiple targets, reloaded while transitioning to a window. We engaged three steel targets with the strong hand from the window and then proceeded to another series of cardboard IPSC targets.

There was good sense of fellowship and some frustration as we experienced some of the stress that is normal while developing proficiency and making transitions under the eagle eye of Dave Farrow. Dave let us know when we made mistakes that involve safety and also had some helpful hints for better shooting techniques.

The evening was not complete without taking turns on shooting at a Texas Star that spins around with plates for targets. Then we engaged in a “billet drill”- five shooters in front of five targets shooting six shots into a target as fast we could. I am suggesting that we take up a collection and make both Dave and Bruce ADTA members. I hope they will continue to be involved even when we start holding live-fire events at the West Coast Armory. The ADTA Board also will be meeting and formalizing our intent to donate some nine millimeter ammunition to Paul Bunyan’s youth programs.

The following is a report from one of our members that attended the second ADTA event and recently participated in his first USPSA practice at Paul Bunyan:

Subject: BEFORE you get to the Range preparation-
Learn the commands, safety check procedure and where the safety area is and its purpose.

It is complicated and there is STRESS!! You need it to be second nature.

Practice drawing, reloading and firing with blanks/dummy rounds/snap caps.

Wear a big strong belt. Get all your gear on your belt as you will have it at the range.

Best procedures for perfecting your draw, presentation and other information about getting started can be located at Getting Started- USPSA Practical Shooting.

Research them on line, books, acquaintances.

Bring at least 3 magazines and belt mag holders, ‘More is better’. I saw some with a rack of 6-8 magazines on their belt.

Holster on one hip(outside the waistband)- muzzle straight down (I didn’t see any ‘FBI cants’); magazines on other hip.

No Rambo stuff – clothes, gear or attitude.

No cross draws, shoulder holsters (the muzzle points away from downrange. More on this below).

Range preparation:

Your time to shoot is announced:

START of shooting sequence-

Step to the firing station

Face downrange and await instruction from Range Officer.

Know how to prepare your weapon for the start of the firing sequences at the firing station.

Face downrange. You have an unloaded pistol with NO magazine in gun in your hip holster.

Range Officer will tell you to “Make ready” (Remove pistol from holster keeping muzzle downrange, insert loaded magazine in your pistol and cycle a live round into the chamber, place safety on and return pistol to holster).

Stand facing downrange waiting for Range Officer behind you to issue these commands:

“Are your ready” (no response required unless there is a problem; nod head if want to); “stand by” ;”BEEEEEP” . Draw and Engage targets.

END of shooting sequence-

Know how to show clear to the Range Officer when directed.

To ‘Show clear’ after each shooting session:
While muzzle is facing downrange – remove magazine, cycle out last round, lock or hold open slide to display empty chamber, close slide and dry fire straight downrange.)

Oh, did I mention to keep the muzzle always pointing downrange?

If you break 180 by turning too far to the left or right you will be disqualified and not allowed to complete the match for that day. (See ‘DQd’ below).

Move and Shoot-

When you move between targets, change magazines. It saves time from running out (10 with one in the chamber is IDPA round limit/mag. IPSC-USPSA does not have a limit in the open category.)

One way in which IDPA differs from USPSA is that there are situations in which you will be required to retain the magazine when you reload.

When shooting at targets through a window, don’t stick your pistol through the window (you are thinking ‘the closer I get to the targets the better’). The window is small and if the pistol recoils or you jam it going into/out of the window – it can cause a firing interruption, or worse- a dropped gun- a DQ!

So many things will get you disqualified (see ‘muzzle downrange’ and ‘dropped gun’ above.)

Read and study the USPSA and IDPA rules material!!!

We represent a fledging organization and first impressions count. Make them good ones. You represent more than just yourself.

View YouTube “idpa or ipsc shooting” and see what you will be doing BEFORE you arrive. for Renton facility. A good video.

Watch everyone else to see what they are doing. Copy/steal any technique that works! This is the American way.

Range Duties-
After the “all clear” (RO confirms recent firing sequence is done, pistol is clear of rounds and re-holstered) is sounded, help paste paper targets / paint steel and pick up spent brass (most reload so they want it back).

IDPA has a strong focus on shooting from cover which is important to our objectives. USPSA, IDPA and Steel Targets are all good ways to build skills. Paul Bunyan’s steel match is the third Sunday of every month at 10:00 AM and IDPA at Paul Bunyan is on the fourth Saturday of evey month.

Many folks have observed that we are bonding together as neighbors in love and good fellowship that will continue to grow!

Federal Way gun owners are letting us know that they are serious about the proposed gun range for our city.

We appreciate all the support we have received for our Armed Defense Training Association to achieve our training objectives.

I don’t know whether we will be shooting like SWAT operators but we can all become proficient at shooting on the move and from behind cover. LEOs call such procedures Reality Based Training. Front Sight and excellent local schools like the Firearms Academy of Seattle (in Onalaska, Washington) are well worth the considerable time and expense — if you plan to own a weapon for self-defense.

Incidentally, at FAS you will shoot on the move, from cover and under low-light conditions! We are lining up similar opportunities locally by negotiating range time as a group and then bringing in various instructors and other professionals to make the events safe and productive.

We received encouragement to get going with this plan of action from several business leaders, including members of the Chamber of Commerce. Before the recent proposal for a Shooting Arts Center was published in the Federal Way Mirror, I spoke to the Noon Kiwanis Club and a local Rotary Club about armed self-defense. Soon after I spoke at Rotary, a Rotary Club member asked when we are going to get started with a range.

All ADTA scheduled events are posted here. As our membership grows, ADTA will continue working towards establishing a local Federal Way shooting facility with the flexibility to provide tactical shooting events.

We hope the proposed range will be a resource for law enforcement (at very little cost to local government) and ADTA members for training. There are quite a few of us working to make all these things happen!

Please watch this location for updates!

Another Federal Way resident, Rick Cook (USMC), and I wrote a book entitled, He Trains My Hands for Battle. The book is a primer on Scriptural Kingdom principles relating to armed defense. In order to obtain an electronic copy ofthe manuscript that you can printout on your own printer, go to and use the e-mail address there to send $9.00 via Pay Pal. You can make additional copies for church groups and other nonprofit organizations at no charge. Please contact us if you wish to present a seminar or class based on the materials.

Federal Way Needs a Shooting Range

People ask me whether Front Sight training is as good as advertised; i.e., will it get you shooting better than a SWAT officer? Our skills improved considerably and the instruction is first rate but I don’t think I am close to being ready for SWAT duty!

I was surprised that the four-day handgun class at Front Sight did not include any shooting from cover. There was a great deal of emphasis on clearing jams quickly and extensive drilling with targets until we could draw from concealment and make headshots in about two seconds. By the time we were tested, I was getting worse rather than better. Maybe fatigue, maybe stress or both. I attended a two-day tactical shot gun class at Front Sight last spring and the instructors really made me work then, too.

At the Firearms Academy of Seattle a few years ago, we shot from cover during a two-day handgun class. Front Sight gave us some good training that was new to me on tactically entering rooms and there was a session where we engaged targets in a house. We also did a night shoot.

The FAS course and Front Sight are both good and almost any one can improve from either course. Front Sight and FAS are very different programs in many ways. Marty Hayes told me that many LEOs attend FAS as a unit at their own expense and the same probably applies to Front Sight.

Thus, my conclusion is that some of the students probably did get as good as a SWAT professional when it comes to making quick shots. Several Front Sight participants did not choose to shoot the timed targets during the test. Only a handful of students actually met the strict requirements for graduation.

We weren’t training as a tactical team and tactical aspects of the training were very basic. Front Sight has tactical classes that probably meet the tactical standards set by most police forces. I have participated in some IDPA and IPSC matches that develop related skills and the Front Sight training seems to have made a significant difference during the most recent match in which I participated- especially when it comes to clearing jams.

So the advertising has some truth to it but nothing substitutes for experience! The instructors do a good job of explaining to participants how important it is to avoid a gunfight if there is any way possible. The emphasis on safety is intense and everything is very professional. We need to construct a range with a capacity for all of the activities outlined above and institute training programs right in Federal Way.

I only paid a minimal amount for the class ($49.00) due to the promotionals Front Sight constantly runs. The time and expense going down to Las Vegas area is such that I think FAS is more practical and just as good or better in some ways than Front Sight. I wanted to see more of Death Valley area so the trip was an adventure for me!