Franklin County Sheriff will not enforce new gun legislation

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. - Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond has taken a stance against Initiative 1639, saying the new gun legislation is unconstitutional and will not be enforced within the county’s jurisdiction.

The initiative raises the purchasing age for semi-automatic “assault” rifles from 18 to 21 and contains various other provisions, such as one that says gun owners may be liable if an “insecurely stored” firearm is stolen and used in a violent crime.

In November, Sheriff Raymond issued a memo to his law enforcement personnel instructing them to “not take any enforcement actions” as it pertains to I-1639 and to “simply document” violations so they can be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.

Sheriff Raymond argued that the initiative infringes on citizens' Second Amendment right to bear arms.

He said community members have shared concerns of getting arrested for violating the new regulations, and he assured the public that will not happen.

At a meeting Tuesday, Franklin County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution in support of the sheriff’s decision, saying they do not want the initiative enforced within the county.

“Commissioners felt like [I-1639] was an unnecessary abridgement of fundamental constitutional rights held by Franklin County citizens,” said Franklin County Administrator Keith Johnson.

Johnson said while the commissioners do not have the authority to change state law, they are showing their support for legislators to amend the initiative.

The age restrictions of the legislation went into effect on January 1, although those restrictions have been disputed locally by the West Richland chief of police. The remaining provisions will go into effect on July 1.

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