While a majority of county sheriffs and at least five county commissions in Washington state are standing in defiance of a controversial—and some argue, unconstitutional—gun control initiative passed last November, the governor and attorney general have sent a letter to nearly 262 firearms dealers in the state to “comply with the law.”
Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both anti-gun Democrats, sent the letter Thursday, and some rights activists are already suggesting that the governor, who wants to be the next president, has strayed into hypocrisy.
“Despite what some of these sheriffs would have people believe, no one has the ability to pick and choose which laws to follow,” Inslee said in a news release. “It’s very simple: Our state’s voters overwhelmingly approved stronger background checks and gun safety measures, and dealers will be required to comply with those laws.”
But Inslee and Ferguson have done that, critics argue, by declaring the entire state to be a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants in violation of federal immigration laws.
In their letter and news release, Inslee and Ferguson declare, “No court has declared Initiative 1639 unconstitutional.” Critics note that court challenges of the law have only recently begun, but one judge actually did throw it off the 2018 ballot last summer for not complying with state election law. The State Supreme Court reinstated the measure a week later, however.
This controversy comes at a time when sheriffs across the West are defying recently adopted or proposed gun control laws. In addition to Washington, top county lawmen in Nevada and New Mexico are also outspoken against gun control laws in their states, and several counties in Illinois have established themselves as “sanctuaries.”
The push for additional gun control laws came following Democrat victories in state and federal elections last fall. With Democrats controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, their gun control agenda is moving forward. However, measures passed by the House must still make it through the Senate, which is under Republican control.
In Washington State, Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and they are pushing several gun control proposals dealing with several different issues.