Washington Sheriffs Take Stand Against Gun Control, Refuse to Enforce Bad Law


Even though Initiative 1639 passed in Washington State last fall, several county sheriffs are refusing to enforce it because they believe it to be unconstitutional. (Dave Workman photo)

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- When the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobby in Washington State last year convinced voters to pass Initiative 1639, a sweeping gun control measure, the state’s largest law enforcement groups lined up against it, and now sheriffs in at least ten counties have announced they will not enforce the law because they believe it to be unconstitutional.

The latest top lawman to take a stand is Grays Harbor County, Sheriff Rick Scott. In a three-paragraph letter to Randy Ross, chairman of the County Commission, Scott had this to say:

“As your sheriff, I have sworn to uphold the United States Constitution, and the Washington State Constitution. Therefore, until the legality of I-1639 s resolved, I have instructed my deputies to take no enforcement action as it pertains to I-1639. Deputies will document such matters. However, they will take no enforcement action. Nor will we pro-actively initiate investigations relative to I-1639.”

Likewise, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich wrote in an email to KHQ news that he fought and spoke against I-1639 and has done several interviews about the measure. He called the initiative “unconstitutional at the State and Federal level.

Other sheriffs taking stands against the new law have issued letters that essentially mirror the sentiments of both Scott and Knezovich. Making matters even more interesting is the fact that the sheriffs represent counties on both sides of the state. Western Washington is generally viewed as the more liberal half of the state while Eastern Washington is seen as more conservative.

The 30-page initiative raises the minimum age for purchasing a so-called “semiautomatic assault rifle” to 21, and classifies every semi-auto rifle ever manufactured, including popular centerfire hunting rifles and .22-caliber rimfires, as “assault rifles.” It also mandates training, a 10-day waiting period, registration, and so-called “secure storage.”

The initiative is being challenged in U.S. District Court by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association.

Scott joins sheriffs in Adams, Benton, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Ferry, Franklin, Spokane, Wahkiakum, and Yakima counties. Also, the Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners has also resolved to oppose I-1639.

Last November, the initiative passed in only a dozen of the state’s 39 counties, but those are the counties with the largest populations.

Washington has become an acknowledged “test tube” state for gun control. Many observers believe it is at the epicenter of the national gun control movement, which has been energized in recent years thanks to the fortunes of wealthy elitists including Michael Bloomberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, and the late Paul Allen, all of whom have financially supported gun control efforts in the state over the past five years.

In 2014, the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is allied with Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety lobbying group, pushed through Initiative 594, which required so-called “universal background checks” as a strategy to prevent gun-related violence.

But one year after it was enacted, Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., did a quick analysis and found several shootings that were not prevented by the law.

In a prepared statement at the time, Gottlieb observed, “The only discernible impact of the law has been to inconvenience honest gun owners and add more red tape to gun shows.”

Nearly two years after the initiative passed, the state suffered a pair of high-profile shootings with multiple victims, but instead of acknowledging that their measure failed to live up to its task, the gun control lobby simply pressed for additional restrictions. I-1639 is the latest of those, and with county sheriffs and one police chief – in Republic, Ferry County – refusing to enforce it, beleaguered Evergreen State gun owners and rights activists are hoping this may be a signal that Northwest anti-gunners may have gone too far.

Hands Off My Guns
In a prepared statement at the time, Gottlieb observed, “The only discernible impact of the law has been to inconvenience honest gun owners and add more red tape to gun shows.”

Dave Workman
Dave Workman

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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Bobby Jennings

I know that the wing-nuts think all gun laws are “unconsitutional” but they help more than hinder. The powers that be in Washington should take note what Colorado did, when Colorado cracked down on the out-of-control gun market, the so-called country sheriffs also refused to enforce the law. Colorado simply told them that either enforce the law or lose their commissions as law enforcement officers. (Which would have put most of them into the unemployment line). In Colorado, you either have a commission as a law officer — or you are not a cop, of any sort. Even if you… Read more »


There are over 50 million Americans that owns a gun. That is one of the largest man-woman militia in the world. That’s power, and the whole world knows it. Even the corrupt politicians in this country that don’t like it.

Deplorable Bill

Finally, common sense. An unconstitutional law is just that–unconstitutional. Illegal. Treasonous. The right of the people shall NOT be infringed. Seems straight forward to me. I to, just as many of you did, swore to uphold the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I am glad to see some LEO’s standing up for what is obviously right and against what is obviously wrong. Arm up, carry on.


Wasington have their corrupt Supreme Court to thank for this abominatoin even being up for a vote. Bloomie’s moneybags floated an almost identical bill in Oregon, same problems with the format of the petition papers, and unconstittuiional on several levels federal and state. Local court said the measure can stand, so did the next level up. But the Oregon Supreme COurt said NO WAY, this cannot be put onto the ballot for these reasons……. Washington’s Supreme COurt laid down and said “fine with us”. SIckening that four of those “just us” es were on the ballot for reelectioni.. UNOPPOSED. The… Read more »

Don Bailey

The Sheriffs are elected law enforcement official, while police chiefs, for the most part, are appointed by urban/city democratically elected officials. Typically, the Sheriff is elected by the rural county population to the dismay of the liberal city population.

Jack Mac

Check out what the Houston PC and the police union head said after the Jan 28 “Drug” raid.


I agree with the Sheriffs, only problem is “what can they not enforce? All the licensed gun store are going to have to obey these medieval laws to stay in business. The corrupt state controls all their licenses.


I expect more of these ballot initiatives in the future. Legislators will not introduce them nor oppose them, for fear of losing a vote, deflecting responsibility. The petitions will be poorly vetted, as were the ballots in the mid-terms, so bid rigging, ballot box stuffing and harvesting will be employed to further the anti-gun agenda. The urban centers of our country are infested with left wingers and can certainly out vote the balance of the state if the right stays complacent.

Webfoot Logger

I suspect an organized effort to steal the election is how they got this abomination passed . . . my ballot was rejected, allegedly for not signing the envelope, and the time to return it was very very short.

Greg K

Consider this Webfoot; we sign the envelope, not the ballot. Leaves a lot of room for stuffing. More important, since they are voting via mail, how many people have come and gone per address? Progressives wouldn’t hesitate to vote someone else’s ballot. It took me 3 tries to get a ballot removed from my address after the person it was addressed to had moved 5 years earlier. One more thing, as far as I know, all you need is a WA St. ID card to vote. Any illegal can get a driver’s license in this state. There’s a rat in… Read more »


Good to see that there are still folks with good common sense and ethics outside of Seattle.

Will Flatt

Hope the Sheriffs exercise their FULL Authority and keep the Super Duper State Troopers out of their counties as far as enforcing these tyrannical non-laws, and arrest those that try to enforce them against the orders of the Sheriffs!

Gun owners had better be prepared to go to the mattresses for these Sheriffs!!

John Evans

These gun grabbing morons are going to get thousands of local police killed or seriously injured when they come to try and take us law abiding citizens guns. The stupid politicians are setting the police or other enforcement folks to get shot attempting to take away our 2nd amendment rights. Because if they actually think we will give up our firearms, they are sadly mistaken. These politicians MUST be stopped. The Nazis pulled the teeth of the Jewish people, taking their weapons, then systematically exterminated them. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN HERE IN THE United States of America. There are plenty… Read more »


You can bet that the big city police chiefs who are political nematodes will not side with the Sheriffs. The initials PC do not mean Police Chief in big cities, it means Political C-nunt.

No Filter

I hope the Sheriff’s departments will come to the same conclusion if Oregon legislators pass the gun elimination measures proposed here. For them to say no, this is Unconstitutional and we won’t enforce these laws is the best news for Washington gun owners.

Greg K

So proud of my sheriff I don’t know where to start. Now that they have put their butts on the line we need to back them up when time comes.


See sherrif departments are reasonable.they are on our side


Agreed. The vast majority are.

Luckily, Oklahoma is a gun-friendly state. I’ve verified that my county sheriff is a staunch 2nd Amendment supporter (as are the sheriffs of the six closest counties around mine).