Stevens County resolution moves to nullify I-1639
Resolution: 'Unconstitutional' gun-control measures cannot be enforced
Last updated 1/30/2020 at 1:14am
COLVILLE — Stevens County commissioners returned fire on Western Washington gun-control advocates earlier this week, unanimously voting to back a resolution to nullify Initiative 1639 and new gun-control measures being considered in Olympia.
Commissioners Steve Parker, West McCart and Don Dashiell all backed the resolution.
“We're not claiming any immunity,” Parker said. “We're just challenging the legality of the legislation that's upcoming that runs afoul of the constitution.”
Democrats in control of state government in Olympia are pushing for restrictions on the number of rounds of ammunition a clip/magazine can hold, requiring background checks for ammunition purchases and making all semi-automatic firearms illegal.
Those proposed gun-control bills and others come on top of I-1639, which passed statewide with 59.35% support Nov. 6, 2018, on the strength of Puget Sound voters.
In the resolution, commissioners propose nullifying I-1639 because it “imposes restrictions on commonly owned and used semiautomatic rifles without factual basis...”
I-1639 went into effect in 2019 and raised the legal age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21, redefined the firearm as an "assault rifle," implemented more stringent background checks and mandated that dealers also must sell trigger locks and gun safes. The law also made firearms' owners criminally liable if their gun is used in an incident, even if the firearm was stolen.
Voters in 18 of 20 counties in Eastern Washington overwhelmingly rejected I-1639.
Lincoln County voters led the opposition with 75.09% rejecting the measure.
East of the Cascades, only Spokane and Whitman Counties — which are home to universities that attract large percentages of urban residents — supported I-1639.
Although its provisions were implemented, the law has been challenged in court as unconstitutional by the National Rifle Association and First Amendment Foundation.
“We're not claiming any immunity,” Commissioner Parker said. “We're just challenging the legality of the legislation that's upcoming that runs afoul of the constitution.”
According to the resolution approved in Stevens County, initiatives do not receive judicial deference in federal court.
“These are constitutional issues and not part of the legislative prerogative,” Parker said.
“The United States Supreme Court has recognized that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an individual right to possess and carry weapons and that self-defense is the central component of that right,” the resolution says. “The United States Supreme Court has also recognized that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to 'all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.'”
The resolution says that the right to keep and bear arms applies to state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Since I-1639 cannot be reconciled with the Constitution, the measure is unconstitutional and a waste of tax dollars, the resolution says.
“The Board of County Commissioners of Stevens County, Washington concludes that Initiative 1639 cannot withstand judicial scrutiny,” the resolution says.
Parker said he hopes other counties will use the Stevens County resolution as a model to oppose unconstitutional government overreach.
“More and more counties need to make plain their position on this legislation,” he said, noting that politicians in Olympia and Western Washington are disregarding due process, and the state and federal Constitutions.
“It's troublesome, very troublesome,” he said. “We don't want to be legislated out of our God-given rights, and the Constitution.”