WA Sheriff Won’t Follow ‘Sanctuary’ Law Signed by Anti-gun Gov. Inslee

Spokane County, Washington Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. (Spokane County Sheriff's Department)
Spokane County, Washington Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. (Spokane County Sheriff's Department)

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- The high-profile sheriff of Washington State’s Spokane County who earlier said his agency won’t enforce a controversial gun control measure passed by voters last fall that was supported by Gov. Jay Inslee has now declared he will not follow a new “sanctuary law” signed last week by the governor, who is now running for president.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in February that he couldn’t enforce provisions of gun control Initiative 1639 because he believes they are unconstitutional. Now he is telling reporters that Inslee’s much-ballyhooed sanctuary law – which seems as much designed to boost his flailing presidential campaign among the far left as it is to provide a sense of safety to illegal immigrants – will not prevent him from “helping our federal partners enforce the law.” Inslee signed the law May 22.

In an interview with KHQ News – the local Fox News affiliate in Spokane – Knezovich noted, “I’ve been in law enforcement for 29 years. I have never asked anybody for their immigration status. I have never heard of anyone asking about immigration status. The only time that ever comes up is if we’re playing the name game and we finally find that, oh, okay you are in the country illegally.”

Knezovich is no wallflower when it comes to controversial issues. Three months ago, he was one of the more outspoken sheriffs in the state to criticize the gun control initiative because of its far-reaching requirements. He said in multiple interviews that his office had received hundreds of calls and messages from people who had even voted for the initiative but didn’t realize what was actually in it.

I-1639, which is being challenged in federal court on constitutional grounds, strips young adults in the 18-to-20-year age group of their Second Amendment right to purchase any kind of semiautomatic rifle, even a .22-caliber hunting or target shooting model. It also establishes a training requirement, registration, so-called “enhanced background check,” ten-day waiting period and so-called “safe storage.”

One section Knezovich found especially offensive was the legal definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle.” As written, the language applies to every self-loading rifle that has ever been manufactured, and the sheriff said I-1639’s definition applied to a firearm that really doesn’t exist.

In a February interview with Liberty Park Press, Knezovich recalled, “I was in the U.S. Army. My rifle was never called an ‘assault weapon.’ They passed this initiative to create that definition to include every semi auto in the state.”

His concern is that at some future date, the same billionaire-backed gun control lobbying group based in Seattle will run another initiative to outright ban “semiautomatic assault rifles,” at which point even such popular guns as the Ruger 10/22, the classic Remington Nylon 66 and Marlin Model 60 will become illegal, because they fall within what should be considered a bogus definition.

Knezovich’s new pronouncement is likely to raise Inslee’s hackles as he struggles along on the campaign trail. The Democrat governor, running on a climate change platform, can’t seem to get much momentum in a field occupied by two dozen like-minded politicians who all seem to be tripping over one another in a race to the Far Left. Inslee made a few headlines when he signed the sanctuary measure, but with a very popular and populist lawman taking a stand that has already gotten national attention, the sanctuary idea may leave him with a political misfire.

That’s a term Inslee, who doesn’t seem to care about firearms, probably won’t understand until he figures out that his entire approach has completely missed the bull’s eye because it never left the barrel.


About Dave WorkmanDave 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.

  • 67 thoughts on “WA Sheriff Won’t Follow ‘Sanctuary’ Law Signed by Anti-gun Gov. Inslee

    1. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect here in this article’s interpretation and the comments.

      1. The Sanctuary State legislation, in general, is designed to minimize local law enforcement from being used to perform the duties of federal immigration officers while also minimizing possible prejudism in regard to questioning anyone about immigration status or birthplace. Law enforcement may still question individuals on immigration status or birthplace if it is directly tied to a criminal investigation. If Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich’s statements are true about having never asked or seen a law enforcement colleague ask about immigration status, then this legislation would not matter to him since it basically supports his alleged behavior.

      2. I-1639 does not “[strip] … Second Amendment rights” from 18- to 20-year-olds; it raises the minimum age limit on when one can *buy* a gun to the already established federal minimum age. It does not limit the age on when one can *use* a gun.

      3. I-1639’s enhanced background checks, which check law databases for criminal records or mental health pleas in court cases, are already performed on gun sales. I-1639 extends this check to semiautomatic assault rifles as well. In a nutshell, the background check determines whether an individual has an *outstanding warrant* or a record of being found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. In other words, if you do not have an outstanding warrant for your arrest or have not been found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in court, you will be able to purchase a firearm as expected.

      4. The safety training requirement of I-1639 applies only to semiautomatic assault rifles. Remember, it is *safety* training only.

      Sheriff Knezovich’s actions are suspect here. He is a sworn officer of the law. He, like anyone else, is not above the law. He has a duty to uphold the law as it is legally established, which means supporting the legislation as passed. His opinion is irrelevant to his sworn duty. He should fight the law with other legal means, taking a case to the Supreme Court as he suggests, but he must uphold the law until it changes. This is of paramount importance; otherwise, it undermines our Justice System as well as elevating a person’s preference above the law. If you support his actions, you need to ask yourself if you would support a sheriff who believes the opposite to be true, enforcing stricter, unconstitutional gun control practices that have not been legally passed as law simply because he believes them to be “right.” When a law enforcement officer’s beliefs alter his/her ability to serve his/her sworn duty, then it is time for them to be replaced with someone who will uphold the law. They do not need to agree with it, but they must perform their sworn duty.

      1. Shut up, you libtard troll. There is no such thing as a semiautomatic “assault rifle”.

        Your lies and left-wing agitprop are duly noted and rejected!

        1. The term “semiautomatic assault rifles” comes directly from the I-1639 measure: https://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/initiatives/finaltext_1531.pdf

          An Internet troll is one who resorts to flame baiting others by namecalling laced with vitriol.

          My comments above–with exception of my conservative view of duty over selfishness in regard to elected officials in the last paragraph–are restatements of fact as reported in I-1639. The notes about the Sanctuary State law are based upon multiple articles summarizing its purpose and its definition. My personal view on that matter is irrelevant because I am calling out the non-issue that lies at the heart of Knezovich’s claims. The facts have not been chosen selectively to eschew a political cause or view–a requirement of propaganda. The purpose is to clarify with accuracy not present in the article and hopefully–albeit naively–to get mindful, articulate replies with explicit reasons on how these facts are being interpreted as they are here. It is a tall order because it would seem there are none.

          1. Stu C: The federal minimum age for purchasing a long gun is 18. Thus, I-1639 has “stripped” persons in the 18-20-year age group of their Second Amendment right.

            Thanks for reading.

          2. Stu C. You obviously are a liberal since you follow the belief that because the washington state legislature passes a law it’s legal. Just because the pass a law does not mean it’s legal. You display a very weak mindset. A personality that depicts you as a follower not a thinker or leader. People that think everything they read is true is the proof of ignorance of the constructional law as set forth by our forefathers. That’s what the constitution was written to take care of mindless people like you. Also just if you didn’t know this fact, the state patrol which is under the governor and under chief Batiste does not allow it’s officers to access the Mexican database of drivers licenses. The governor stopped that in about 2013. Step by step he is dismantling the safety of every washington state resident with his crazy policies. Shame on you sir. And shame on the governor.

            1. The supreme court will uphold this law as constitutional . If you need an example please refer to the recent decision on silencers.

        2. So…someone clarify for me just what a semi-automatic assault rifle is? I spent a over 10 years in the military and have never heard this term before.

          1. @Steven Shriver, First, thank you for your service. Second, I never heard of “… flame baiting…” either. And what is the tenth amendment basis for something called a sanctuary state? Stu is a nub with a slave mentality.

        3. The Sheriff is the intimate law enforcement officer in his County and he does have the right to not enforce laws that he deems not Constitutional.

      2. You are a fool for numerous reasons but I’m not going to spend a lot of time on you. First of all good on this sheriff, he swore an oath to uphold and defend the constitution, 1639 infringes on the second ammendment, what are those last words of it? Oh that’s right, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. Secondly we have this thing called the law of the land if you’ve never heard of it let me fill you in, you see, the general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any statute to be valid must be in agreement with it. It is impossible for a law which violates the Constitution to be valid. This is succinctly stated as follows:
        “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” Marbury v. Madison

        1. In addition, Article 6 Supremacy Clause null & voids all gun control that does not fall into compliance of 2A.
          Ultimately cops who decide which gun control they uphold and which they deem unconstitutional and refuse to uphold are still acting outside their authority enshrined in the Constitution because gun control is unconstitutional.

          1. So when cops jack you up for carrying a gun they do so unconstitutionally and when they request permits again they do so unconstitutionally acting outside their authority. When I see they stop jacking up people that openly display a firearm and stop demanding unconstitutional permits, registrations and When they stop confiscating guns used in self defense I will get on their side. Not a moment sooner. 2A clearly states it is permit to bear arms. The leasing of rights is unconstitutional.

        2. @Nate: Again, an elected officer of the law cannot re-interpret the law just as much as a soldier cannot re-interpret orders in a way to avoid following them for personal reasons. It is not their duty to interpret law. And we should all ensure that none do to protect each of our rights and get consistent and objective actions by officers of the law. It is hypocrisy to laud one officer over another for re-interpreting law to fit our personal whim. This is how law can become politicized. Remember, a Sheriff and other officers of the law are sworn to first uphold the Rule of Law and the Constitution of the State. A State law has to be appealed to the Supreme Court in order for it to be overturned. Before then, it is law. Back to the details I mentioned in my original post, precisely and succinctly how does I-1639 infringe upon our Second Amendment Rights? We need to be able to articulate those in detail in order to appeal these issues to the Supreme Court.

          1. @Stu C, We all know that a statute or act of a legislature, that offends the US Constitution, is not law. Any of the co-equal branches of the Federal government can decide a statute is unconstitutional. Any prosecutor can nolo pro se que because they decide a statute is unconstitutional. Any and every jury in America can refuse to convict because they conclude that the statute is unconstitutional. So why would the chief county law enforcement officer be wrong to compare any given statute and the State or US constitution; conclude that the statute is unconstitutional or to vague to understand; and refuse to enforce that act of the legislature. I think that you better revisit that Miranda v Arizona case, Stu C.

      3. Probably 60% or more of Washingtonians agree with this sheriff as do myself. Many who voted for I-1639 are questioning it. It’s no good. Inside is a piece of shit anyways that’s already been established.

      4. You must be a jackass Democrat. I served in the Army just like the sheriff did and my rifle was never declared a semi-automatic. Get a freaking life and quit bitching about gun control.

      5. The Sheriff also swore an oath to unhold the Constitution of The United States of America. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and can not be circumvented. An 18 year old is by definition a legal adult not allowing them to buy a long gun is denying them their Second Ammendment right.

      6. The Constitution always trumps knee-jerk Laws based on the current zeitgeist. Would you also have condemned a cop of conscience who refused to enforce Jim Crow Laws because of their unconstitutionality?

    2. quote from the article
      received hundreds of calls and messages from people who had even voted for the initiative but didn’t realize what was actually in it.

      and RIGHT HERE we have the root of the problem. Washington’s voters do NOT take the time’effort to inform themselves. Hardly anyone actually READ that initiative.

      Further, a friend of mine has run the numbers, and he has proven that less than 23% of gun owners in the State of Washington even bothered to vote…. so THAT right there explains how this trash initiative got “passed?
      Even so, it is still in clear violation of multiple parts of Washington’s Constitution, AND the Federal Constitution. They did not even bother suing in state court, our SUpreme Court has a proven track record of refusing to uphold our own state Constitution. They were asked to look at the otriginal initiative as circulated for signatiores, and despite the FACT it violates the WA Cosntitutoin on at least six levels, perhapa many more, they refused to keep it off the ballot.So the highest court in the state are in violation of their own oaths of office. Need to be charged with felony perjury for that, debenched, disbarred, and sentenced for their felonious ctivity.

    3. Thank you for showing the resolve of the good and righteous who will not disavow their oath of office. I also took this oath and will defend all it asks.

      A tree is known by it’s fruit. Men are known by what they stand for and against, the promises they keep, the people they defend and the strength of their enemies etc… Evil is as evil does. That which is right and wrong is defined in the BIBLE and our nation is founded upon it’s precepts, covenants and mandates. The sides are clearly defined. You stand up for what is right or you don’t.

      Obviously there is a battle coming but, in the end, righteousness will prevail. I want peace, you want peace, we all want peace, but not at the expense of our freedoms and rights. There is a peace that can only be found on the other side of war. If battle must come, I will fight it.

      Arm up, carry on.

    4. We need to thank this Sherriff and all that operate similarly. This may be the one avenue that will save our rights. I live 100’s of miles away from his district but I respect his outlook. We just need more like him because he is a more responsible human than all the democrats put together that are running for president. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are our freedoms and prosperity. Get use to it.

    5. Inslee clearly needs to go, and so does his muslim Lt. Governor, the Mayor of Seattle as well.
      Firearms are personal property, get your hands off my junk.

    6. I applaud the sheriffs back bone and common sense. Something that I would ask every god fearing, constitutional minded, gun loving person out there to remember, is that the ballot box is our strongest tool to stop these far leftists from getting in office in the 1st place. Politicians need to be reminded that they serve the people. It’s amazint that politician can become so wealthy in a public servant type job.

    7. A friend and I were talking and he said don’t be surprised if one of these days one of these gun banning governors uses his position to stay in office for 20 or 25 years! Just sign an “emergency bill” so they can continue in office unopposed. Why bother with voters when you can declare yourself governor for life And you will get other politicians who will support it and jump on the bandwagon! Background checks = gun registration = gun confiscation = you being taken awa by democrat storm troopers and put into a New World Order gun control concentration camp!

      1. I can only but recall and paraphrase JFK’s statement: Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable. Commissar Inslee may sign any law he wants to. Who will enforce it? If these Cosmic White Marxists insist on the abrogation of our God-given liberties, it is only a matter of time before there is a significant push back. Stay vigilant.

    8. Maybe if you can avoid stepping on the homeless and piles of feces on the way to the polls WA voters can elect a real governor.

    9. May God bless you and yours, Ozzie. Stay strong. We need more leaders like you in our country.
      Watch your back…the lib-tards dont take kindly to non-conformists and they will soon all step up and take pages from Clinton’s playbook on eliminating interference.

    10. Salute the Sheriff of Spokane CO. WA.. ” A Perfect Pitch” is the order of the day. While many “Other” LEO’s whom work in “Other Counties” in WA State, could in fact, LEARN a thing or two from this “Other” real, genuine, and honorable, CONSTITUTIONAL Sheriff.
      -We Thank you….SIR.
      – It matters. it makes a difference.
      – News Flash!: Facts matter too.
      YOUR local County Sheriff is the highest LAW of the LAND. This is the Office where the BUCK actually Stops. Meanwhile, Over yonder In Snohomish County, on the OTHER side of the Cascade Range, the Local Sheriff is NOT running for Re-Election. Why so?
      -Possibly an Anti-2nd kind of fellow. Much pressure applied by the Folks of said County.
      -Gets kind of HOT in the Kitchen, when the Temp rises.

      1. He is far from the only such sheriff in Washington. I know for a fact two brothers, sheriffs in neighbouring conties Thurstaon and Lewis, are of the same mind. both have been reelected multipe times.
        Outside of King, Snohomish, Pierce, and to some extend Clark counties, the whole state is conservative, orotective of our gun and other rights.liberties, and opposing open borders/pro-illegal invaders.

        I have come to firmly hold the position that the states need to switch to an “electroal college” form of election process. Else King COnty alone will contnue to run the entire state. Ass Snohomish and Pierce, it is a hopless imbalance.

    11. Great job sherrif knezovich!!! I think it takes a great man to say that and support the citizens 2nd amen rights.there needs to be more law enforcement like you.that is our right and law abiding Americans should not be disarmed for no reason. Thanks sherrif and writer for great article highlighting his decision.god bless America our soldiers and law officers and our 2nd amen rights

    12. This country needs more law enforcement like this man. If the L has their way we will be an islamic nation with only the jihadist having guns.
      I understand laws against 3D guns, but when our nation is on the verge of an all-out war, IT IS NOT THE TIME TO ASK YOUR CONSTITUENTS FOR GUN CONTROL!
      Personally, I think we are at war now. All we need is a ‘Tea Party’ and it would be like the first shot fired…

    13. Uh-Oh, The Sheriff’s back in town, and he’s probably gonna be lookin’ to arrest anyone that has intentionally violated their Oath of Office in order to deprive law abiding citizens of their Constitutional Rights. Could it be? You’re gonna need a bigger jail….

      1. All office holders that violate their oath of office should be stripped of their position and put in jail. All the Dems running for President have already said they will violate their oath of office if they win. How does that make any sense.

      1. Actually he is fulfilling his oath to uphold the Constitution, something you seem to know little of or care about. Shame on yoy, Kathy!

        1. Oh my punctuation! Oh my spelling! What ever happened to proofreading? It’s the end of the planet as we know it! Arrest that guy!

      2. Unfortunately for those who try to bully everyone into their liberal mindset, Sheriff Ozzie is exactly fulfilling his duties as a law enforcement officer. Unlike the governor who seems to think he can break and replace any laws he doesn’t like, the Sheriff has actually read the State Constitution, as well as the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights! He is upholding the actual legal laws. Unlike not-my-governor Inslee, Sheriff Ozzie is an honest and honorable man.

        1. NO. We none of us think Inslee is diong fine. He is a traitor, usurper, in serious violation of his oath of office, and operating far outside his lawful authority as governor. HE is not the legislature. HE cannot put laws into place, only enforce the ones the legislature has enacted, which he does NOT do.
          Good thing for Inslee he is not based in Spokane County, and that the sheriff of King County is not made of the stuff of this sheriff.. he’d find himself charged with felony perjury for swearing his oath of office then NOT keeping it.

          1. inslee lasted exactly ONE term in the legislative district where I used to live because while he talked a good game, he failed to deliver – he then moved to north King County where was elected to numerous terms by the libs living there. Now he is ‘governor’ – glad I moved away.

          2. You’re correct in your assertion that Inslee isn’t the entire government. But you’re Batshit crazy if you think he’s actually done what you claim.

      1. Too include the exact reason why 2A was added to the Constitution.
        Bootlickers should be preparing to use 2A for its intended purpose.

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