The fight over a Washington gun law passed by voters last November has caught the eye of several county sheriff’s saying they don’t plan to enforce the law calling it unconstitutional.
Initiative 1639 passed with 60 percent of Washington voters saying yes. The initiative bars the sale of semi-automatic rifles to people under 21 and it bars the sale to people who do not live in Washington. The law also requires buyers to pass an enhanced background check and prove they’ve taken a firearms training course.
The intent behind the initiative is safety. Section one of the law reads: “Gun violence is far too common in Washington and the United States. In particular, shootings involving the use of semiautomatic assault rifles have resulted in hundreds of lives lost, devastating injuries, and lasting psychological impacts on survivors, their families, and communities.”
Since voters approved the initiative in November, several counties and sheriff’s departments across the state have said they don’t plan to enforce the law.
The worry is the law infringes on legal gun owners second amendment.
In Klickitat County, Sheriff Bob Songer said his department will not enforce the I-1639.
“1639 is unconstitutional, so therefore I will not be enforcing 1639 against the citizens of Klickitat County,” Songer said.
County Commissioners are holding public meetings to get a feel for what county citizens would like them to do.
In Cowlitz County, Sheriff Brad Thurman said they are taking a wait and see approach. He says only part of the law took effect on Jan. 1. He added there is a flaw in the way the law in written and of the time being they won’t be enforcing I-1639.
Thurman said they want to wait until at least July 1 when the rest of I-1639 goes into effect to determine what they will do. He said currently the law has been taken to court, and lawmakers could be making changes to it.
Gun owners in Kelso feel the law isn’t for them, citing 61 percent of voters voted no.
Wally Wentz, who owns a gun shop in Kelso, says the law strips away second amendment rights for some Washingtonians.
“When you take all 30 of those pages from 1639, and start to direct them by section and what the real changes are it is flat scary, it's flat scary,” Wentz said.
He told FOX 12 the provision in the law upping the age on who can buy certain types of firearms will affect members of the military. He said people can serve in the military, be issued a gun by the government, but can’t come home and buy one.
Those who oppose the resolution passed by Cowlitz County Commissioners Tuesday said how can a county pick and choose the laws they want to follow.
“I don’t think marijuana should be legal, should I start a group and come up and talk to you and so we can all vote on it here and three or four or five people can decide whether we are going to abide by a law or not,” one woman said.
Others argued the law will help save lives.
“I really like 1639, I think that it is important that we do thorough background checks, I think that mentally ill people shouldn’t have firearms because of the protection of themselves and for the protection of other people,” another woman said.
County Commissioners in Wahkiakum County said they have a resolution on the agenda for next Tuesday in regard to I-1639. They said they are currently in talks with their sheriff and prosecuting attorney on what that resolution will look like.
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