The police chief in the City of Republic, in Washington’s rural Ferry County, has reportedly declared he will not enforce anti-gun-rights Initiative 1639, while two citizens independent of one another have launched petition efforts to fight the gun control measure before it becomes law beginning Jan. 1, while activists anticipate a lawsuit challenging the initiative’s constitutionality.
According to the Omak Chronicle, Republic Police Chief Loren Culp “has no intention of enforcing I-1639,” which the story noted was “passed Nov. 6 by a minority of counties in Washington State.”
The initiative, bankrolled by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying group, makes gun laws in the state among the most restrictive in the nation. Washington has a tradition of moderate gun control laws. Open carry is legal and the state has the highest number of active concealed pistol licenses of any western state.
There is no small irony in Chief Culp’s reported decision. It essentially makes Republic, the Ferry County seat, a Second Amendment “sanctuary city” in a state that has declared itself a “sanctuary” from immigration enforcement laws.
The two petitions, while they may carry no legal weight, illustrate the frustration among grassroots rights activists who see the 30-page initiative as a tool for trampling their rights under the federal and state constitutions. One petition, launched by former congressional candidate Jered Bonneau on the federal website Whitehouse.gov, has gathered more than 1,100 signatures.
That effort has been eclipsed, however, by another petition at Change.org that was started by Kourtney Overmire. By Wednesday morning, it had amassed more than 12,800 signatures and was shooting for 15,000 by the end of the day.
Backlash against passage of the initiative has been widespread. Grassroots rights activists fought hard against an overwhelming $5 million-plus war chest that largely came from less than a dozen wealthy Seattle-area elitists and the New York-based Everytown for Gun Safety group created by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
Gun owners were furious that the measure was even allowed on the November ballot after a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled in September that initiative petitions did not comply with state law. But his decision was overruled by the liberal state Supreme Court a week later, so the initiative was allowed on the ballot. It passed based on heavy voting in several Puget Sound basin counties plus Spokane and Whitman counties.
Under provisions of I-1639, the minimum age for purchasing a so-called “semiautomatic assault rifle” is raised to 21, and the definition of such guns encompasses every self-loading rifle ever manufactured, including popular rimfire hunting and target rifles such as the Ruger 10/22, Marlin Model 60 and Remington Nylon 66.
I-1639 also creates a new felony-level law called “community endangerment,” and creates a registry of all semi-auto rifles. It includes a ten-day waiting period, a so-called “enhanced background check,” a “secure storage” requirement and other tenets that opponents believe are unconstitutional.
The age limitation takes effect Jan. 1, while the bulk of the initiative is not effective until July 1, 2019.