The Sheriffs of Washington's rural counties are increasingly pledging to not enforce the new gun control bill (I-1639) that was passed in November by ballot initiative, citing it as unconstitutional. 22 out of 39 counties make up the latest count, with more expected as the court battles ramp up across the state.
If you live in another part of the country and haven't yet heard about I-1639, the law is a totalitarian assortment of restrictions against gun owners. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) say it is downright unconstitutional and have initiated a joint federal lawsuit against the state.
I-1639 encoded into law measures which are due to be implemented on July 1st of this year. Among them are:
- The minimum age of purchase of semiautomatic rifles was raised from 18 to 21,
- The extent of mandatory background checks for semiautomatic weapons purchasers was expanded, and
- It established requirements for home storage of firearms.
The age raise is in effect now, while the others will take effect later.
A word of warning from Gun Rights Watch: enforcement in each county may be intermittent or may depend on who the officer on duty is. Don't take our word for it that you'll be able to freely ignore the law in any of the counties we outlined in green above. Don't be shocked if the Sheriff publicly refuses to enforce the law, but hasn't ordered local police not to.
The one provision of the new law that seems to be causing the most fuss and which many have pointed to as being blatantly unconstitutional is the higher age requirement for buying a semiautomatic rifle. This clause singles out and discriminates against 18 to 20-year-olds simply by virtue of their age, preventing them from exercising the one Amendment in the Bill of Rights that ends with, "...shall not be infringed." It wouldn't be much of a stretch to suggest that if there's one part of the law which could cause the entire thing to be stricken down, it's this one.
If the US Constitution fails to sway and courts about what the state can and cannot do in regard to gun rights, it might be better served by taking a cue from its own state constitution. About the right to keep and bear arms, it makes the following statement:
"The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men."
One last note about the map above:
Tracking down this information has been spotty at best and our best understanding of the situation is that sheriffs in the green counties above may selectively enforce some of the provisions of the law, but not all. Further complicating the matter is that most of them seem to not have their minds fully made up yet, or aren't being open about what exactly they'll do about I-1639 come July 1st.
We expect to have more edits to the map coming over the next few months.
- Adams County
- Benton County
- Chelan County
- Clallam County
- Columbia County
- Cowlitz County
- Douglas County
- Ferry County
- Franklin County
- Grant County
- Grays Harbor County
- Kittitas County
- Klickitat County
- Lewis County
- Lincoln County
- Mason County
- Okanogan County
- Pend Oreille County
- Skamania County
- Spokane County
- Stevens County
- Yakima County
- Wahkiakum County
- Whatcom County