Last November, Washington voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 1639, which will give the state some of the strictest gun laws in the country when it takes effect on July 1.
But 12 county sheriffs say it’s unconstitutional.
Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer says he has no intention of sending his deputies out to enforce it.
“Why would I go out and arrest people if I feel I’m violating their constitutional rights?" he said.
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But Sheriff Songer and the 11 other sheriffs who say they won't enforce the new law may not have that option. The new laws are largely administrative and don’t have a significant law enforcement component.
The initiative voters approved raises the minimum age to buy a rifle to 21 and requires an expanded background check for all rifle purchases. It also requires firearms to be securely stored when not in use.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich agrees that 1639 is unconstitutional but thinks sheriffs who say they won’t enforce it are grandstanding.
“That’s really not how it works,” he said. “Prosecutors are the ones who decide charging.”
Knezovich says the courts need to settle this.
“The day I start deciding what laws I’m going to enforce … it’s a slippery slope,” he said.
That, he says, is how you create a tyrant.