Stevens County commissioners call new gun laws ‘dangerous and damaging’

Stevens County commissioners call new gun laws ‘dangerous and damaging’
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You can now add more elected officials to the growing list of those who refuse to enforce Initiative 1639, a voter-approved law for stricter gun control in Washington.

The Stevens County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution this week formally opposing I-1639, which calls for stricter background checks and safe gun storage and to raise the age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. The commissioners call the law unconstitutional and now stand in solidarity with several sheriffs who have spoken out against it.

“It’s the type of thing that we believe is dangerous and damaging to citizens, law-abiding citizens,” said commissioner Steve Parker. “We don’t come out against everything that we don’t agree with. These happen to be constitutional principles embedded from a very founding era.”

Parker told KXLY the resolution opposing not only I-1639, but any bills similar to it, is meant to open a discussion within the community.

“It’s not meant to be an enforceable piece of action, more than an educational piece of action,” Parker said. “And a statement of belief for the county.”

To read the resolution in full, click here.

The commissioners, Parker said, are leaving enforcement to Sheriff Brad Manke, who is one of many local sheriffs against the law.

“Unless it’s an imminent danger to the public, we are not going to make custodial arrests, we are not going to issue citations,” said Manke. “That doesn’t mean that information won’t be forwarded to the prosecutor where they can make a determination on whether to prosecute or not. We’re just not going to make custodial arrests.”

Manke said he stands with the 73 percent of Stevens County voters who were opposed to I-1639.

“That’s what the majority of them believe and we answer to the people,” Manke said. “We’re utilizing discretion and if it’s imminent danger to the public, we’ll enforce it.”

Both Manke and Parker said they’ll be paying close attention to the federal lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) challenging the constitutionality of I-1639. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has said he believes the law is constitutional and intends to defend it in court.

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