Are New Firearm Rules In Washington Unconstitutional? Some Sheriffs Say Yes, But Courts Will Decide

Local law enforcement officers in areas of Washington are calling a new law making changes to semi-automatic rifle and other firearm regulations in the state unconstitutional.

Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer says he will not enforce the new initiative that places stiff requirements on the sale and ownership of semi-automatic rifles. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and City of Republic Police Chief Loren Culp announced shortly after the November election that they wouldn’t enforce the new law.

KOHO’s Dan Langager sat down with Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett for his perspective on the issue.

Initiative 1639 — approved by voters in November — raises the age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, calls for enhanced background checks, and requires buyers to complete a firearm safety course. The initiative also holds gun owners accountable if someone uses their firearm to harm themselves or others.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, have filed a joint lawsuit challenging the initiative.

6 Comments

  1. Delwin Libby on January 31, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    I thought initatives could only address one subject. I-1639 addressed 17 Why was it allowed to be on the ballot. Also All semiautomatic rifles are not Assault Rifles.

  2. Jon M Johnston on February 1, 2019 at 7:44 am

    I agree with Delwin it should not have been on ballot its a illegal initative court should throw it out with no issues. Chelan county sheriff job will be availible in November if he wont stand to protect his people. And how can he says we voted it in when Chelan County opposed the I 1639
    King county is telling us we have to have this initative. The discussion is a great side step to say what he needs to do. Remember we didnt vote for it King county did.

    • Dan Langager on February 1, 2019 at 8:05 am

      Jon, the Sheriff rightly pointed out that Chelan County voters did not approve the initiative. It passed on the state-wide vote, but received 45% approval in Chelan County. Sheriff Burnett was also re-elected this last November and started his third 4-year-term last month.

  3. Patrick McCabe on February 1, 2019 at 8:38 am

    I respect the Sheriff’s comment about allowing the process to happen. That said, the initiative process was violated on many levels and yet went to the ballot, so forgive me if I do not agree with you regarding confidence in the process. You are clear in your opposition to 1639. Thank you. I just wish you would take a greater stand. I do not share your confidence in “the process”. As the Sheriff, you are the law for Chelan County. You set the tone. My confidence is diminished.

  4. Andrea on February 1, 2019 at 9:30 am

    I am still not sure how this bill passed, it basically is saying my kids can’t hunt even though they went thru the class. And I am wishing at that the part of Washington I live in would be Liberty. Makes me sick that they think we don’t have rights as people. Start treating us likes humans and not dog crap on the ground.

  5. Independent Voter on February 2, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    What part of “shall not be infringed” do they not understand ? Their oaths of office require them to defend the Constitutions of WA AND the USA. This was a result of billions of out of State money, a media which lied by omission, and WA gun owners who didn’t bother to vote. The next question to be answered is if the courts accept this unconstitutional tyranny.

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