Two more Eastern Washington sheriffs say they won't enforce Initiative 1639

Roger Harnack

Eastern Washington's rebellion against Initiative 1639 continued Wednesday and Thursday with two more county sheriff's publicly stating they won't enforce the gun-control measure.
Adams County Sheriff Dale Wagner and controversial Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich both called the measure unenforceable.
The measure, I-1639, raises the minimum age for adults to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21, redefines those rifles and “assault rifles,” mandates safety classes for purchases. In addition, it requires firearms dealers to sell trigger locks and gun safes, and prevents them from selling to out-of-state residents.
The law would also make firearms owners criminally liable if their guns were involved in any police incidents, even if the guns were stolen.
Calling the measure unconstitutional, Knezovich, speaking to a Spokane radio station, said he doesn't see anything enforceable in the statute approved by voters last November.
Knezovich is the top law enforcement officer in one of only two of Eastern Washington's 20 counties where the measure passed. Knezovich lives in the rural Reardan area of the county, just a few miles east of Lincoln County, where more than 75 percent of voters opposed the initiative.
In Adams County, Wagner announced on Facebook that he would not enforce I-1639.
“Upon being sworn in as the Adams County Sheriff, I have sworn to uphold the United States Constitution as well as the Washington State Constitution to the best of my ability,” Wagner said. “I have a duty to serve those in my community and protect their rights under the constitution. As of now, I-1639 appears to violate the 2nd amendment of Constitution of the United States
“Let it be known that I, the Sheriff of Adams County Washington and those employed by my office, will not enforce I-1639 as it is currently written”
General election returns show 64.45 percent of Adams County voters opposed I-1639. Adams County's largest city is Ritzville, located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 395.
“Those who live and reside in Adams County have made this very clear in how we voted this last election with an overwhelming percentage against I-1639,” Wagner said.
Their nullification of the measure follows similar actions in Benton, Franklin and Klickitat counties east of the Cascades. Additionally, law enforcement officers in multiple cities, including West Richland and Republic, have said they won't enforce the measure; and some firearms dealers — like Talos Tactical in West Richland — are continuing to sell semiautomatic rifles to adults ages 18-20 despite the initiative.
West of the Cascades, Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza has said he won't actively enforce the measure.
In addition to the backlash by law enforcement and firearms owners, two counties have taken formal action opposing the implementation of Initiative 1639.
Those counties are: Franklin County, which includes the city of Pasco, in Eastern Washington; and Cowlitz County, which includes the cities of Longview and Kelso, in Western Washington.
Commissioner Clint Didier of Eltopia spearheaded the effort in Franklin County. Commissioners Joe Gardner and Arne Mortensen both supported opposing the measure in Cowlitz County.
Back in Northeast Washington, officials in the city of Republic are researching whether to declare the rural county seat a “sanctuary city” for gun owners.