Two more county commissions in Washington State have taken stands against the enforcement of a controversial gun control initiative passed by voters last fall, while members of the state’s largest gun show operation, the Washington Arms Collectors WAC, have reached in their wallets to support the federal lawsuit now being waged against the measure.
Commissioners in Grays Harbor and Benton counties passed resolutions this week against enforcement of the initiative, which raised the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to age 21 and classified all semi-auto rifles as so-called “assault weapons.” The measure also requires “safe storage” of guns, mandates training in order to legally purchase such a firearm, establishes a 10-day waiting period, and adds a fee for paperwork to purchase a self-loading rifle.
Opponents have called it an “extremist” piece of legislation that was financed by Seattle-based billionaires and may be unconstitutional considering a ruling by a federal judge in California that struck down that state’s ban on large capacity magazines.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, in his 86-page ruling that declared the magazine ban unconstitutional, wrote, “People may cede liberty to their government in exchange for the promise of safety. Or government may gain compliance from its people by forcibly disarming all. In the United States, the Second Amendment takes the legislative experiment off the table. Regardless of current popularity, neither a legislature nor voters may trench on constitutional rights. An unconstitutional statute adopted by a dozen jurisdictions is no less unconstitutional by virtue of its popularity.”
Correction: I-1639 passed in 14 Washington counties but failed in the rest.
Several weeks ago, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told Liberty Park Press that he had received hundreds of phone calls, including many from people who voted for the initiative, expressing alarm and surprise at what the measure actually required. At the time, he said many people felt they had been misled into believing the initiative was about school safety, but it is really a gun control measure.
Some 20 county sheriffs, including Knezovich, have announced they won’t enforce provisions of the initiative.
The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association are partnered in a federal lawsuit against the measure,
And over the past two months, WAC members have donated more than $13,000 to help pay the legal expenses to fight the initiative.
Gov. Jay Inslee—who is currently running last in a race for the Democratic nomination for president—and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have warned sheriffs about possible liability for not enforcing the initiative’s requirements. Both men supported the initiative and the current insurrection by sheriffs and county governments amounts to an embarrassing political slap in the face.