‘Porcupines to terrorism’

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  • Courtesy photo Action Training Group members gathered at a Fernan shooting range in June 2016.

  • 1

    Knapp

  • Courtesy photo Action Training Group members gathered at a Fernan shooting range in June 2016.

  • 1

    Knapp

Titles are wide-ranging in the arena of justice, but Post Falls resident Mark Knapp's is especially distinct.

He's a gun lawyer.

For the last 25 years, Knapp has carved out a Second Amendment niche. His firm's mission is to provide clients with legal counsel and educate armed citizens to present force in an emergency.

Knapp, a Gonzaga Law School alum licensed in Washington, even had a recurring column in the Federal Way, Wash., newspaper where he'd opine and dole out advice on gun-related topics.

"An offer for the Sikh Community," one title read, touching on the 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wis.

"How does it feel to kill?" read another title of a column which dove into the psychological cost of taking a human being's life.

His firearm knowledge still resonates in the Seattle suburb, but not just for his counsel and weekly musings. There he started Action Training Group, a nonprofit with more than 100 members.

ATG members fraternize in the name of gun safety and preparedness by providing low-cost, reality-based training at indoor and outdoor shooting ranges.

"As morality declines and violence increases, we believe that it is crucial that citizens know how to react to help protect themselves and others," Knapp's ATG mission reads. "To prepare and mentor citizens and churches we created the Action Training Group."

Now there's a new ATG chapter in Coeur d'Alene which Knapp hopes to be in full operation by the summer.

It's already assembled around 60 members, primarily of Christian faith, ranging from ex-military and law enforcement personnel to weekend warriors wanting to learn how to protect themselves.

The group's genesis was a shooting range in Fernan during the summer months and has swiftly evolved. Once the group gets liability insurance, it will be able to use local indoor ranges.

"It's open to anyone. You don't have to be a Christian," Knapp said of the new group, which has been meeting once a month. "You just have to have good character."

ATG provides scenarios often reserved for competitive shooters or students, contracting with local ranges to use the entire range with skilled professionals.

One of ATG's major emphases is church protection. Knapp notes how churches have become more vulnerable to attacks.

"I've been predicting the bad things that are happening. We've seen more of those active shooting situations," Knapp said. "The shooting of Pastor Tim Remington. That was a big thing for everyone around here."

Remington, a Coeur d'Alene pastor, was shot by a man in The Altar's parking lot last March and survived.

In November, a man showed up at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls with a gun. He had a standoff with police before taking his own life.

Longtime gun advocate Russ Rathbun is one of Idaho ATG's members and was quick to assert this group’s goal is just to educate and prepare.

"We don't want to be recognized like some militia group," Rathbun said. "You want to make sure people carrying guns are responsible and not just something they should get, and throw in their car. If they're carrying, they need to be regularly practicing how to use it."

And if a church is prepared, Rathbun believes, active shooters or terrorists will think twice.

"We become porcupines to terrorism," he said. “They're not going to go into a place where people are on-key and situation aware."

For more information visit www.actiontraininggroup.org

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