Thirty-seven of Washington State’s 39 county sheriffs stirred a political hornet’s nest this week when they issued a statement carrying all of their signatures that affirms their allegiance to the Constitution, particularly the Second Amendment, in what amounts to a slap in the face of the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobby, the State Legislature’s Democrat majority and anti-gun Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The story was first reported in AmmoLand News.
Noticeably absent was the signature of King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, whose position was changed by a public vote last fall from an elected to appointed job. The sheriff will now be appointed by the King County Executive, answering to a politician instead of the people. This was another change backed by Seattle-area elitists last year following the tumultuous summer and fall months of protests and riots in downtown Seattle. King County encompasses Seattle.
Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett, vice president of the Washington State Sheriffs’ Association (WSSA), started the effort last month. The only other signature not on the resolution was that of Kitsap County Sheriff Gary Simpson, who retired June 30. His replacement has not yet been named.
Sheriff Burnett issued a statement to his constituents explaining, , “Prompted by increasing public concern to safeguard constitutional rights and as the elected Sheriff of Chelan County, Washington, I soundly reaffirm my sworn oath to ‘support, obey, and defend’ the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Washington. I humbly serve as the chief law enforcement executive of Chelan County in this great State of Washington. As such, I publicly reassert my individual duty to defend the inherent rights guaranteed and protected by the Constitution for all citizens of Chelan County.
“Importantly,” the sheriff added, “the Second Amendment of our divinely inspired Constitution clearly states ‘… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed’. I hereby recognize a significant principle underlying the Second Amendment: the right to keep and bear arms is indispensable to the existence of a free people.
“As your elected Sheriff,” he said, “I pledge to do everything within my power to steadfastly protect the Second Amendment and all other individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution. I understand that the destructive influences currently existing in our country will only relent when men and women everywhere genuinely care for each other. In order to be a strong and prosperous people, we must rely on Providence, and care deeply about preserving the Constitution and its freedoms.”
Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher issued a similar statement noting, “Importantly, the Second Amendment of our Constitution clearly states … ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed. As Sheriffs, we recognize this inalienable right and swore to protect it. I feel strongly that the Second Amendment: the right to keep and bear arms, is indispensable to the existence of a free people.”
Over the past six years, two anti-gun-rights initiatives bankrolled by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility have been passed in the state. The first measure—Initiative 594 in 2014—instituted so-called “universal background checks” for every firearm transfer with a few exceptions for family members, while the second—Initiative 1639 in 2018—stripped young adults of their right to purchase and own any semi-auto rifle regardless of caliber, and invented a definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that applies to any self-loading rifle ever manufactured. Several sheriffs already said they would not actively enforce that law resulting an outbreak of liberal hypocrisy from local and state officials insisting the gun law be enforced. Many are the same people who have pushed so-called “sanctuary” policies which prohibit local police and sheriffs’ departments from cooperating with federal immigration officials in the enforcement of immigration laws.
The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association are challenging I-1639 in federal court. They are joined by two firearms dealers and three members of the affected age group.