SPOKANE, Wash-- Sheriffs in a dozen Washington counties say they won’t enforce the state’s sweeping new restrictions on semi-automatic rifles until the courts decide whether they are constitutional.
A statewide initiative approved by voters in November raised the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, required buyers to first pass a firearms safety course and added expanded background checks and gun storage requirements, among other things.
Sheriffs in 12 mostly rural, conservative counties — Grant, Lincoln, Okanogan, Cowlitz, Douglas, Benton, Pacific, Stevens, Yakima, Wahkiakum, Mason and Klickitat — along with the police chief of the small town of Republic, have said they will not enforce the new law until the issues are decided by the courts.
“I swore an oath to defend our citizens and their constitutionally protected rights,” Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones said.
Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers noted more than 75 percent of voters in his small county just west of Spokane voted against the initiative.