Klickitat County sheriff is latest to refuse enforcement of I-1639
I-1639 has proven controversial in many counties across Washington since it was approved by voters last November. Now, Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer joins others in refusing to enforce the measure.
“I understand there’s an argument that a sheriff has to follow the rule of law, and I would say generally that’s true, unless I feel as an elected sheriff, I have the authority and right to protect the rights of the citizens of Klickitat county that I serve,” Sheriff Songer told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.
I-1639 enacted some the nation’s most stringent gun restrictions, garnering nearly 60 percent approval, largely from densely populated areas like King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, Clark County, and Spokane County.
That being so, rural areas where gun ownership is seen as more integral in day-to-day life widely panned it.
“Out of 39 counties, 27 counties voted it down,” Songer pointed out.
Songer’s motivations, though, go beyond the voting rolls.
“The Washington State Constitution states the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of themselves or the state shall not be impaired,” he cited. “If they wanted to make a change in the Constitution to make it legal, I’m saying that this initiative is not a proper way to go about it.”
Songer joins Republic Police Chief Loren Culp and Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie in refusing to actively enforce I-1639, in a decision that state authorities have found difficult to mount opposition against.
“There’s no practical way you can force a local police department to enforce the law,” former state Attorney General Rob McKenna told MyNorthwest back in November. “We’ve distributed power to enforce laws that are designed to protect our safety and health to local governments — ultimately it’s up to the voters who live under that local government to decide whether or not they like it.”
But what happens in Klickitat County if I-1639 survives a court challenge and is declared Constitutional?
“We always have discretion in enforcing the law — do I need to say any more?” Songer said.