A Third Of Washington's Sheriffs Say They Will Not Enforce New Gun Restrictions. Is This the Way Of the Future?

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In November, Washington, led by its ultra liberal coastal cites, enacted a series of laws restricting the ability of citizens to own firearms:

A statewide initiative approved by voters in November raised the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, required buyers to first pass a firearms safety course and added expanded background checks and gun storage requirements, among other things. It was among the most comprehensive of a string of state-level gun-control measures enacted in the U.S. after last year’s shooting at a Florida high school.


Not everyone took this lying down:

Sheriffs in 12 mostly rural, conservative counties — Grant, Lincoln, Okanogan, Cowlitz, Douglas, Benton, Pacific, Stevens, Yakima, Wahkiakum, Mason and Klickitat — along with the police chief of the small town of Republic, have said they will not enforce the new law until the issues are decided by the courts.

“I swore an oath to defend our citizens and their constitutionally protected rights,” Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones said. “I do not believe the popular vote overrules that.”

Initiative supporters say they are disappointed but noted the sheriffs have no role in enforcing the new restrictions until July 1, when the expanded background checks take effect. The provision brings vetting for semi-automatic rifle and other gun purchases in line with the process for buying pistols.

This via The Hill:

Mary Fan, a law professor at the University of Washington, told the newspaper it is noteworthy that sheriffs are coming out against enforcement.

“What’s atypical about this situation is they’re not saying, ‘Hey, we have limited resources so we’re going to figure out how to best use them,’” Fan said. “They’re saying, ‘We don’t agree with the people and so even though we are the people’s public servants we’re not going to enforce that law.’”

The State Attorney General is making noise about ensuring the law is enforced:


The state attorney general has stepped in with a warning to more than half the state’s county law enforcement officials who say they refuse to fully enforce the gun control measures voters approved in November.

Police chiefs and sheriffs will be held liable if they refuse to perform background checks required by I-1639, said Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Tuesday in an open letter to the law enforcement officers who oppose the measure.

“I will defend Initiative 1639 against any challenge,” wrote Ferguson. “My office defeated the legal challenge to the previous gun safety initiative passed by the people, and I am confident we will defeat any constitutional challenge to Initiative 1639 as well.

“Local law enforcement are entitled to their opinions about the constitutionality of any law, but those personal views do not absolve us of our duty to enforce Washington laws and protect the public,” he said.

As Tom Knighton at Bearing Arms writes, there isn’t much the AG can do about this

Look, if I live in a county where the sheriff says he’s not going to enforce I-1639, I’m not going to go and make a big deal about needing a background check on a prospective buyer for my gun. I’m just going to sell the gun.

As such, there’s no way the sheriff can be accused of refusing to conduct a background check.

Then there’s the fact that even if the sheriffs in question were willing to enforce the law, there’s absolutely nothing to stop two people from conducting the same transaction. Nothing at all.

At the state level, it will be virtually impossible to distinguish between the two. Someone who is able to rise to the level of being an attorney general in the state of Washington should be able to muster enough brainpower to see that.


As a rule, I’m against armed men deciding what laws they will and will not enforce. I don’t think that is a good idea in general Having said that, this whole incident really underscores something that Justice Clarence Thomas has been writing about for years. In Washington, the Second Amendment is now a sorta-maybe Constitutional right. It isn’t treated on par with the First…or even the Third, for that matter. It is the only right in the Bill of Rights that continues to be assaulted day-in and day-out and no one cares. That the electorate voted for this travesty after being whipped into a frenzy by stuff like Jake Tapper’s prime time, televised, shaming of Senator Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch doesn’t make it a good idea. I’d remind this assclown that lots of stupid and immoral stuff has been created by voters and by legislatures: fugitive slave laws, Jim Crow, are salient there. Would this guy be complaining if sheriffs were refusing to evict blacks from whites-only establishments?

Sooner or later, the Roberts Court has to take up some of these Second Amendment cases. Right now, the landmark Heller case is being turned into a pile of confetti by aggressive anti-gun forces and courts willing to go along with them. If the courts don’t step in and enforce the Constitution then widespread resistance may be the only solution.


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