Colville, Wash. Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke made it clear in a facebook post on friday that his office and deputies will not be enforcing Initiative 1639 "I didn't agree with initiative 1639; I did not vote for it," said Sheriff Brad Manke.
Sheriff Manke questions whether or not the initiative is constitutional even though it was voted into law back in November with 59 percent of Washington state supporting it.
The initiative raises the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy a semi automatic rifle. The law also makes gun buyers go through a safety course first. If you don't secure your gun properly, the law says you'll be charged with a felony if someone uses it to commit a crime and if it's not reported missing or stolen within five days.
Manke has directed his deputies to not enforce it. Meaning no custodial arrests or tickets for violating the law. Unless there's an imminent danger to the public "If there's a truly blatant violation that we could use the law as a tool to potentially save lives that are in imminent danger, public safety is our number one concern we will use whatever tool is necessary to ensure the safety of our public," said Manke
Stevens county overwhelmingly voted against the initiative in the election, and the sheriff doesn't believe it will hold up in the courts "I believe the higher courts will make a determination. It is my hope that it is either stricken from RCW or found to be unconstitutional but if that is not the case we're going to have to take a good hard look at it and discuss with our prosecutors and legal advisors on how and if we move forward at that time," added Manke.
Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke added his name to a growing list of Washington Sheriffs and Police Chiefs who say they will not be enforcing I-1639.
Manke issued the following statement via Facebook on Friday:
As you are well aware Initiative 1639 was voted into law by the voters in the State of Washington in the last election. This law is highly debated and is being contested on mulitple fronts.
It will be the position of the Stevens County Sheriff's Office that we will not take enforcement action (make custodial arrests or issue citations) on alleged violations of this law unless imminent danger exists to the public.
I join the 73% of Stevens County voters who voted against this initiative.
Additional law enforcement leaders who say they will not enforce the law include the Sheriffs of Adams, Lewis and Yakima County. Republic's Police Chief has also said his officers will not enforce I-1639.
On Thursday, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich released the following statement KHQ regarding I-1639:
I fought against 1639
I spoke against 1639
I have done multiple radio shows denouncing 1639
The people of the state of Washington passed 1639
1639 is unconstitutional at the State and Federal level
1639 is being challenged in court
I have offered to join that lawsuit.
The attorneys aren’t sure how to add me in the lawsuit since Sheriff’s have no skin in this one.
These other Sheriffs are purely grandstanding when they say they won’t enforce 1639 because there is nothing for us to enforce
With this said, what is it you would like me to do? As Sheriff there is nothing, at this time, for me to enforce as it pertains to 1639. The day there is I’ll evaluate it and if it is against the Constitutions of the State of Washington or that of the United States I will stand against it.
As it is now, 1639 is not constitutional, is being challenged in court and there is nothing for me to enforce.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich
Sheriff Knezovich also spoke with the media regarding I-1639 on Friday.
Initiative 1639 was approved by voters in November, 2018. But since then, it's become controversial. The new law raises the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 years old. It also calls for enhanced background checks and makes buyers take a firearm safety course.