Washington Sheriffs Decline to Enforce Gun Control

FILE – In this April 10, 2013 file photo, craftsman Veetek Witkowski holds a newly assembled AR-15 rifle at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn. A ruling released Friday, April 6, 2018, by a federal judge in Boston, dismissed a lawsuit challenging Massachusetts’ ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, stating that assault weapons are beyond the scope of the Second Amendment right to “bear arms.” (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Around 16 sheriffs from mostly rural and conservative counties in Washington are declining to enforce provisions of a new gun control measure, citing an obligation to recognize the Second Amendment rights of the citizens they serve.

Washington’s Initiative 1639 is one of the most restrictive and punitive gun control measures in the western United States. Passed as a ballot initiative in November’s election, the initiative prohibits gun owners under the age of 21 from buying semi-automatic rifles and requires participation in state-recognized programs to pass a “background check.”

The law also mandates that gun owners stores firearms in often unpractical locked containers.

While the ballot initiative passed resoundingly in progressive urban Washington, many residents of rural counties voted overwhelmingly against it.

According to the Wall Street Journal, at least 16 sheriffs have said they aren’t planning on enforcing one or more of 1639’s provisions.

One sheriff, Brad Manke of Stevens County, said that he would not consider gun owners between the ages of 18-21 with semiautomatic rifles to be worthy of police investigation.

The National Rifle Association and other pro-Second Amendment groups are currently in litigation with the state of Washington over the measure. Some sheriffs have implied that a conclusion to the litigation is required for the law’s gun control measures to be considered legitimate.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has threatened to hold law enforcement declining to comply with the law liable for crimes, should they fail to execute an expanded “background check” on a criminal who legally purchased their firearm.

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