Okanogan County sheriff’s detectives have arrested a 23-year-old Omak man in connection to death threats against several county sheriffs in Washington who have announced they will not enforce provisions of gun control Initiative 1639, the most prominent being Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
The suspect is identified as Jaydin Ledford, according to KREM News in Spokane
Knezovich released a statement indicating his appreciation that the Joint Terrorism Task Force had investigated the threats, made on social media. According to KREM, he also thanked Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley and his staff.
Knezovich has been outspoken about the gun control initiative, asserting that it is unconstitutional and unenforceable. He suggested that the main reason it was pushed was to create a legal definition for a weapon that doesn’t really exist, a so-called “semiautomatic assault rifle.” Under the definition of that gun contained in the initiative’s language, literally every semi-auto rifle ever manufactured, including .22-caliber rimfire rifles, are now classified as “semiautomatic assault rifles.”
The suspect has been taken to a federal facility in Spokane. According to KHQ News, the investigation was launched earlier this month after threats appeared on Facebook. One of the threats declared “I-1639 is law. Sheriffs that are non-compliant will be shot. By me.” Another stated, “Ozzie Knezovich is gonna get a bullet in his skull.”
Rights activists have reacted to the threats by observing the irony of an apparent gun control activist threatening to shoot lawmen who refuse to enforce provisions of a voter-passed law that they believe to be unconstitutional.
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The suspect, on his Facebook page, claims to be a Marxist and to “speak for the trees.” He also says “eat mercury.”
The suspect could face various criminal charges. KREM reported that initial charges were for harassment and threats to kill and intimidating a public servant.
A majority of sheriffs in the state have publicly announced that they will not actively enforce provisions of the controversial initiative, passed by about 59 percent of Washington voters last fall, even after the measure had been thrown off the ballot temporarily. A Thurston County Superior Court judge removed I-1639 from the ballot because he believed the initiative petitions did not meet the standards of state law. The typeface used on the petitions was so small as to be unreadable by many people, and the text did not include strike-outs or underlines to denote proposed new language and sections of existing law that would be replaced.
The initiative strips young adults in the 18-20-year age group of their Second Amendment right to buy and own “semiautomatic assault rifles.” It adds a waiting period, registration and training requirement, “enhanced background check” that includes waiving medical privacy, and a paperwork fee.
The law is now being challenged in U.S. District Court in Tacoma by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association.
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