Washington Sheriffs Say The Refuse to Enforce New Anti-Gun Law

Sheriffs Come Together to Voice Their Refusal to Enforce New Anti-Gun I-1639 Law

SPOKANE, Wash. — Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett joins a handful of law enforcement agencies to voice concerns about Initiative 1639, which places stiff requirements on the sale and ownership of semi-automatic rifles.

“On Dec. 31, 2018, the start of my third term as Chelan County Sheriff, I swore an oath, ‘That I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Washington and will faithfully and impartially perform the duties of the office of sheriff to the best of my ability,'” Burnett wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

I-1639 has proven controversial in many counties across Washington since it was approved by voters last November. Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer also joins others in refusing to enforce the measure.

“I understand there’s an argument that a sheriff has to follow the rule of law, and I would say generally that’s true, unless I feel as an elected sheriff, I have the authority and right to protect the rights of the citizens of Klickitat county that I serve,” Sheriff Songer told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

Burnett also said on Facebook that he is in agreement with a Jan. 1 statement from the Washington State Sheriffs Association expressing opposition to I-1639. He also posted a letter he wrote to The Wenatchee World voicing his opposition to the initiative during election season.

“As your Chelan County sheriff, I am committed to serving the citizens in a way that both protects their Constitutional right while being both fair and impartial while upholding the rule of law,” Burnett wrote.

Songer and Burnett join Republic Police Chief Loren Culp and Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie in refusing to actively enforce I-1639, in a decision that state authorities have found difficult to mount opposition against.

“There’s no practical way you can force a local police department to enforce the law,” former state Attorney General Rob McKenna told MyNorthwest back in November. “We’ve distributed power to enforce laws that are designed to protect our safety and health to local governments — ultimately it’s up to the voters who live under that local government to decide whether or not they like it.”