Thurston Sheriff on 1639: ‘Am I supportive of it? No. Am I going to enforce it? Yes’
A whole host of sheriffs in Washington state have come out and said that they will not enforce I-1639, arguing that it’s inherently unconstitutional.
The gun bill extends background checks on the purchase of semi-automatic weapons, increases the minimum age to purchase them from 18 to 21, and establishes storage requirements, among other gun control measures.
With numerous colleagues against it, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza has felt the pressure to take a stance, and spoke to The Jason Rantz Show about how he’ll proceed.
“It’s a hard one to say, because I’m actually the president of all the sheriffs in Washington state, and when it first came out, we all agreed to a statement that we support the Second Amendment, that we support the Washington Constitution and the US Constitution on our second amendment rights,” he said. “The hardest part is how the bill is interpreted going forward.”
Sheriff Snaza finds several measures in the initiative difficult to enforce, and worries about the greater implications for rights.
Regarding raising the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, he said: “Being a veteran myself, do I feel that we’re taking rights away from our young people? Absolutely.”
It’s the measure on storage which disturbs him further, since he believes it places lawful gun owners in a legally vulnerable position, and asks police to go far outside what’s possible to enforce.
“Thurston County is not going to go door to door, and neither are the sheriffs you mentioned. I don’t know really where any sheriff has the time or the opportunity to do all that to verify,” he said.
Additionally, sheriffs are criticizing the notion of somehow holding people responsible if they’re house is broken into and their gun later used in a crime.
“If the weapon is used in an assault where someone is murdered, then it becomes a felony. So we’re saying that it takes law-abiding citizens who lock their weapons up whether in a safe or behind a locked door in their home, and now it’s getting stolen,” he said. “How is that fair to any lawful gun owner?”
Caught between upholding 1639 and not believing in it
Ultimately, Sheriff Snaza finds himself in a difficult position, as he has sworn an oath to uphold the law, and yet is faced with a law which he finds troubling to enforce.
“I don’t believe it’s unconstitutional, and the reason why I say that is because it was voted on and approved by the voters,” though he says that he didn’t like the vote and acknowledges that voters can sometimes vote through things which are unconstitutional.
“Am I supportive of it? No. Am I going to enforce it? Yes, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go to every house and ask if they have a person between 18 and 20 who owns a semi-automatic rifle and where they purchased it,” he said.
“But am I required to uphold the law? Yeah,” he added.