Numerous WA State Sheriffs Will NOT Enforce New Gun Bans

P. Gardner Goldsmith | July 7, 2019
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We suffer ridicule and mockery when we note that collectivists are intent on going after peoples’ guns. “Fever dreams,” some say. “Paranoia.”

Yet those of us who have a deep understanding of the nature of individual rights and the history of how collectivists attack those rights know the fear is not baseless. It has been realized in nation after nation over time, and in the mindset of contemporary collectivists all over the globe.

And here, in the United States, both the mentality and actions of leftists prove that gun rights are under attack. The attack is real, and the need for people to take sides has never been more paramount.

As Ben McDonald reports for Reason, numerous County Sheriffs in Washington State are defying political demands that they enforce an anti-rights statute that went into effect there in January and saw added legal “triggers” pulled on July 1.

The law, called “Initiative 1639” is filled with contemporary collectivist clap-trap about “gun violence” and “enough is enough”, doesn’t cite the statistics correlating higher gun ownership to decreased violent crime, doesn’t cite the CDC study showing that civilians owning guns are 3.6 times more likely to stop crimes than to engage in them, and:

Under the new law, someone buying a semi-automatic rifle has to be at least 21 years old, pass a stricter background check, take a safety training course, and complete a 10-day waiting period. The law does not impose a retroactive ban on people under 21 owning such guns, but it does increase the restrictions on where they can possess them. Washingtonians under 21 can only have a gun in their homes, in a fixed place of business, or on real property under their control.

So much for that “right to keep and bear arms” not being infringed. And farewell, again, to that constitutional prohibition against ex post facto statutes. Politicians keep finding ways to breach that.

Not only does this statute blatantly infringe on the individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, it criminalizes such activity for those who acted legally prior to the statute and who still are under 21 now that the statute has gone into effect. The mandate that state residents under 21 keep their guns in their homes, or on “real property” under their control, or in a business clearly changes the rules under which this cadre of the population can operate, presenting them with legal punishment for activity that formerly was legal.

And that’s not all. McDonald continues:

And people of all ages are supposed to comply with strict new storage requirements. ‘A person who stores or leaves a firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person may gain access to the firearm’ is now ‘guilty of community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm’ if ‘a prohibited person’ accesses the gun and uses it.

And McDonald adroitly notes that this black hole of a mandate is being regarded by many as a liability to gun owners who want to get access to their firearms in emergent life-threatening situations.

Of course, politicians would never want the tables turned on them, to allow themselves to be held liable for any of the life-threatening, wealth-confiscating, risk-increasing laws they pass…

The politicians behind this statute show such unbridled contempt for the intelligence of their beneath-the-heel civilian underlings, it’s stunning. Take this, for example:

While the new law stipulates that nothing in it ‘mandates how or where a firearm must be stored,’ it also says that the only way to surely avoid unsafe-storage penalties is through either ‘secure gun storage’ or ‘a trigger lock or similar device that is designed to prevent the unauthorized use or discharge of the firearm.’ Secure gun storage is defined as a "locked box, gun safe, or other secure locked storage space designed to prevent unauthorized use or discharge of a firearm.’

So, actually the new statute does mandate how and where a firearm must be stored.

Do these politicians really think folks are so blind to such towering contradictions?

Many County Sheriffs aren’t blind to them, nor are they willing to enforce laws that clearly, aggressively infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

The Spokesman Review reports that Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke and his deputies "won't be issuing citations or making custodial arrests for most suspected violations, short of an obviously mentally ill person under 21 displaying a semi-automatic rifle in a dangerous manner… When my 19-year-old daughter can't carry a .22 rifle off our property but we can send her off to war—I don't agree with that at all," Manke told the Chinook Observer.

And Manke and his Stevens County Deputies are not alone.

Bob Songer, a sheriff in Klickitat County, told KTTH: 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.'

These people swore oaths to protect and defend the Constitution. Washington State’s Initiative 1639 is an attack on the right to keep and bear arms, and it imposes ex post facto penalties on people who are under 21.

Yet, as McDonald notes, and as we can add to emphasize how alien the state is to rights:

In February, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated that sheriffs who do not enforce the law will be held liable if a prohibited person obtains a gun because of the lawmen's inaction.

First of all, Mr. Ferguson, people with criminal intent don’t care about your gun statutes. They are already keen on breaking laws, and represent a never-ceasing demand for firearms. That’s why gun “control” laws, like other forms of prohibition, do not work.

Second, Mr. Ferguson, we refer you to the earlier point. How would you and others in the hierarchy of insults and institutions created through the forced expropriation of peoples’ earnings like to be held liable for all the statutes you pass and enforce that harm others? That starts with the tax expropriation, and goes into every regulation and mandate that takes away from an individual’s ability to manage his or her life. That applies to minimum wage laws that prevent low-skilled workers from getting their first jobs and drive them into black-market work. It applies to licensing laws that prevent competition and decrease the availability of services people need, and it applies to laws regarding health insurance that increase costs. It applies to gun laws that discourage peacefully-minded citizens from acquiring guns, thus putting them in greater danger, and applies to the poorly managed roads and bridges in the state that hamper economic activity and put lives at risk.

Mr. Ferguson’s overblown rhetoric is as obnoxious as it is anti-rights. And he is not alone. A few months ago, I reported on a new anti-gun law in Colorado.

I also noted that more than half of the Sheriffs in the state refused to enforce it.

Like them, the Sheriffs in Washington State who refuse to enforce these infringements on the right to keep and bear arms seem to understand how important it is to be able to protect oneself. They know the police cannot be everywhere and that people need to take care of themselves.

It’s a shame folks like Ferguson and other politicians in Washington State and Colorado didn’t understand those basic concepts.

Lives depend on it. Lives depend on rights. All humans are born with their rights to defend themselves. Any attack on those rights is an attack on the sanctity of life itself.

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