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February 1 2019

Why WA Sheriff Won’t Enforce New Gun Control Laws

by Laura Carno

Klickitat County, WA Sheriff, Bob Songer, is raising eyebrows by his statement that he will not enforce Washington State’s new gun control laws.

The laws, which passed by a 2018 Washington ballot initiative called I-1639 include: restricting rifle purchases to those 21 and older, enhanced background checks, and secure gun storage. The proponents of the initiative, which they claim will make people safer, have an even more sweeping gun control agenda for 2019. These so-called safety laws might sound reasonable on the surface, but as always, the devil is in the details. Opponents of I-1639 have refuted every claim the proponents made. 

Sheriff Songer recently told The Guardian that the initiative is, “unconstitutional on several grounds. I’ve taken the position that as an elected official, I am not going to enforce that law.”

Is this a controversial statement on the part of the Sheriff, or does it merit a closer look? Upon taking the oath of office, Sheriffs swear to uphold the Constitution. But what about their responsibility to improve the safety of the residents they serve? Is Sheriff Songer simply politically opposed to the laws, or is he looking at what policies will make the Evergreen State’s residents as safe as they can be?

He may be looking to Colorado, whose legislature passed a similar suite of gun control bills in 2013, that were also touted as gun safety measures. Violent crime has subsequently risen by 25%, according to data from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The Sheriff may be looking at the study published in the Journal of Epidemiology, that studied the difference in firearms-related homicide and suicide rates before and after the repeal of similar “comprehensive background check” laws in Indiana and Tennessee. They found no evidence of association.

He might have also seen a more broad study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, which examined data between 1986 and 2015 on violent crime and homicide rates compared with the reduction in restrictions on concealed-carry laws. This study found “no statistically significant association between the liberalization of state level firearm carry legislation over the last 30 years and the rates of homicide or other violent crime.”

The proponents on I-1639 in Washington State claim their gun control laws will make people safer, and they continue to make that claim for their 2019 agenda. Washingtonians should demand that their public servants look only at policies that have been documented to make them safer. Maybe, the Sheriff is the only one looking for that data.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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