Ferguson contacts WA sheriffs about enforcing gun control measure

Letter addresses points of confusion over Initiative 1639

File photo

File photo

By Madeline Coats, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a “Frequently Asked Questions” document March 4 about Initiative 1639, sending letters to all 39 sheriffs across the state regarding the enforcement of a controversial gun control measure.

In his letter, Ferguson highlights examples of misunderstandings from news reports. The FAQ document addresses points he says caused confusion.

Washington residents approved the initiative by a vote of nearly 60 percent last November. I-1639 aims to increase public safety by reducing gun violence and accidents. The law creates an enhanced background check system, requires individuals to complete a firearm safety training course, raises the age of possession to 21 years old, and establishes standards for safe storage of guns. It also redefines a semi-automatic rifle as an “assault rifle” under state law.

The attorney general sent a letter Feb. 12 to more than half of the state’s top county law enforcement officials who said they would refuse to fully enforce the gun control measure.

Approximately 23 of the 39 sheriffs have refused to enforce the new law. The FAQ list identified and answered 16 questions pertaining to the measure. The document responded to common questions about compliance, constitutionality, and the role of law enforcement officials with the new provisions.

According to Ferguson’s answers, residents and sheriffs still need to comply with the requirements of I-1639, regardless of any lawsuits. The law is presumed constitutional unless a court rules otherwise, the FAQ states. Police chiefs or sheriffs could be held liable for refusing to perform the enhanced background check.

Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer is extremely committed to fight for the Second Amendment of any law. The sheriff has spent 48 years enforcing the law, but does not plan to enforce I-1639.

“This law will not do one thing to make it safer for our community,” Songer said. “It will not make a difference.”

Songer said that individuals cannot protect themselves from a burglary or crime in the middle of the night if their gun is locked in a safe.

“The Second Amendment is extremely important,” Songer said. “If we lose it, we might as well lose the rest of the amendments.”

The FAQ states that I-1639 does not require law enforcement to enter a home to check on firearm storage. There are strict constitutional limits on when law enforcement can enter your home, as referenced in the document.

Ferguson ends his letter to law enforcement by stating that no court has found I-1639 in violation of the Second Amendment. However, a civil rights lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington on behalf of several plaintiffs including people between the ages of 18 and 21, a gun store owner, the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation.

The plaintiffs allege I-1639 violates their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

More in News

Here’s who’s running for election in Renton

Candidates had till Friday to file for multiple local electioins

Former First Financial Northwest Bank CEO sentenced for tax fraud

The former CEO and President, Victor Karpiak, hid $2.3 million of income on tax returns from 2010 to 2016.

A design of Yene Boona Café and Roaster House, an Ethiopian coffee shop and roaster. The proposal estimates the project would cost $450,000.
                                Courtesy photo City of Renton
The grand versus the modest – Coffee shop or Plaza for the Old Chamber Building

City Council receives two different proposals for location near the airport

Courtesy photo Amazing Animals.
It’s not Broadway, but it is musical cats

Rescue cats are coming to Renton; not to homes, but to the… Continue reading

Renton’s Leisure Estates, a mobile home park for people over 55, hosted Hollywood comedy writer and producer Sy Rosen on May 4 for a screening of his short film The Matchmaker. Left to right: Ellen Ginn, Linda Keeney, Linda Clauson, Sy Rosen, Eileen Cunio, Darlene Ward, Pat Diggs.
                                Photo courtesy of Northwest Prime Time.
Comedy short-film premiers in Renton mobile home park

Leisure Care Estate residents win contest to host special event

Hazen junior Emily Blundred, team captain and project manager for the Hazen robotics team, was a finalist for the National Robotics Dean’s List. Blundred was able to attend the championship this year in Houston, Texas. Courtesy photo Emily Blundred
Hazen student uses her passion to make room for girls in STEM

Emily Blundred earns special honors through her work with the school’s robotic team

Renton City Council looks to move faster on sidewalk improvements

Almost half of Renton’s streets still don’t have pedestrian paths

School board member Lynn Desmarais announced she will leave her position after this term, leaving an open school board seat this election season. Photo courtesy of the Renton School District.
Long-time school board director ready to hang up hat after December

Lynn Desmarais reflects on 18 years of school advocacy

The Williams Avenue bridge is one of the local bridges facing new weight restrictions for heavy trucks and emergency response vehicles, including fire ladder trucks.
                                Photo by Haley Ausbun.
New bridge restrictions limit Renton firetrucks

City considers alternatives for emergency vehicles near North Renton

Most Read