FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. — Franklin County Commissioners passed a resolution in opposition of Washington State Initiative 1639.
In November, after I-1639 passed, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond sent a notice to all deputies telling them to take no law enforcement action on violations pertaining to I-1639.
He said this initiative violated the U.S. constitution and the Washington state constitution.
“My position is I don’t want to physically, or my deputies, go out arresting anybody for any of these types of crimes,” said Sheriff Raymond. “There’s a better avenue which is to document it and forward it (to the prosecutor.)”
Commissioner Clint Didier introduced resolution 2019-44 which states that the county would stand with Sheriff Raymond, and that they do not want I-1639 enforced in Franklin County.
“1639 attacks our second amendment right,” said Didier. “We’ve got 18 to 21-year-olds that are going overseas and fighting and dying for our country, but they won’t be able to own a firearm.”
I-1639 passed in November. The initiative restricts the purchase of firearms within the state by raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle to 21, adds enhanced background checks and waiting periods for those assault rifles and created storage requirements for all firearms.
Commissioner Brad Peck, who said he is a firm supporter of the second amendment, was the only commissioner to show opposition. He said if a crime were to be committed with a gun that was obtained in violation of I-1639 the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the County Commissioners could be prosecuted in a wrongful death lawsuit.
“We think Initiative 1639 is deeply flawed,” said Peck.” But I am of the opinion that we don’t get to pick and choose which initiative we want to follow. We don’t get to pick and choose which laws we like and want to follow and don’t.”
Peck proposed adding the word “lawfully” to the resolution which he says fixed the conflict. It now reads: "It is hereby resolved that the Franklin County Board of Commissioners recognizes of Franklin County Board of Commissioners recognizes the right of the citizens of Franklin County to self-defense with the legal and constitutional right to lawfully purchase, own and possess firearms as permitted under the federal and state constitutions."
Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher says the initiative isn't clear and is impossible to enforce because it doesn’t define what an assault rifle is. He is expecting a clarification on the initiative in July. He says his deputies have informally agreed not to enforce I-1639.
Franklin County is making it official.
Didier said he hopes this encourages other counties to stand up against I-1639.
Peck said he will take his concerns to Olympia and address state lawmakers. He hopes they will make changes to the initiative.