A growing number of rural sheriffs in Washington state are refusing to enforce a sweeping new gun initiative that places stiff requirements on residents buying and owning semiautomatic rifles.
“I think it’s a bad law, and I think it violates people’s rights,” Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer told the Yakima Herald-Republic in an interview Monday. “This law will do nothing to stop crime or do anything to make our communities safer. But what it will do is make criminals out of our honest citizens.”
“I’ve taken the position that as an elected official, I am not going to enforce that law,” he told The Guardian.
Initiative 1639, a package of gun regulations that was approved by Washington voters in November, raises the age to buy semiautomatic rifles to 21 and requires enhanced background checks, safety training and a 10-day waiting period for semiautomatic rifle purchases.
The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a joint lawsuit challenging the initiative.
Sheriff Songer, who blasted the laws as “unconstitutional,” is joining a growing number of sheriffs in rural parts of the state — including Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie and Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza — who have said they won’t actively seek out people in violation of laws.
Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana said his office would comply with the initiative but use discretion in enforcing it.
“We all have discretion,” he told the Herald-Republic. “We all have active crime going on and we’ll look at this on a case-by-case basis and go from there.”
Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber told the Guardian that he would not enforce the initiative until the NRA’s litigation is completed.
“There’s a window of time when I get to make the assessment,” he said, adding that if the NRA did not succeed, he would then “consider if I want to go on in the job.”