Washington voters passed a gun control law last November that promises sweeping gun control reform, but one sheriff in the state is refusing to enforce it.
Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer says the law is unconstitutional and that he isn’t going to enforce it. Not only that, but he maintains that as an elected Sheriff, he isn’t obligated to do so, Vice News reports.
“Even if it was a legal law, you have discretionary power,” Songer said. “There is no other law enforcement official in the entire United States except a sheriff that’s elected to office by the people.”
And Songer isn’t the only law enforcement official who’s refusing to enforce new gun control measures. In Washington, at least 20 other sheriffs say they plan to follow Songer’s lead, while in the U.S., law enforcement officials in at least 100 counties across seven states are also not enforcing new gun control laws.
But Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson plans to do whatever it takes to ensure Initiative 1639 is enforced statewide.
I-1639 raises the age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21 and strengthens background checks. It also adds new provisions for safely storing firearms. While some provisions went into effect on January 1, others will go into effect in July.
In February, Ferguson sent an open statewide letter to sheriffs, warning that residents may face civil penalties or liabilities if the law isn’t enforced, Vice News reports. In early March he wrote an additional letter to gun shops reminding them that they must follow the law regardless of what the local sheriff says.
And he’s determined to see this through.
“To me, where I draw the line is what’s discretionary and what’s not,” Ferguson told Vice News. “You will see in the state 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds, and 20-year-olds can no longer purchase AR-15s. That’s going to happen. Period. You will see in the state enhanced background checks done for semiautomatic weapons. Effective July 1st, that’s going to happen. Period.”
The measure was opposed by the National Rifle Association and two gun-rights organizations based in Bellevue, Washington. All three groups raised a rough total of $610,000 to fight the measure, The Seattle Times reports.
Songer and Ferguson discuss their views with Vice News reporter Joshua Hersh.
Featured image by Vice News via YouTube video