Voters in Washington state overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative dubbed I-1639 in November, imposing a number of new gun control measures. However, law enforcement officials representing districts opposed to the sweeping regulations say the restrictions are unconstitutional and are therefore refusing to enforce them.
What are the details?
According to the Seattle Times, I-1639 passed with more than 60 percent of the vote — but 27 of the state's 39 counties voted against it. Several sheriffs and police chiefs in those areas are going on the record and pushing back against the regulations that are among the most stringent in the nation.
Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer told The Guardian that I-1639 "is unconstitutional on several grounds," and said, "I've taken the position that as an elected official, I am not going to enforce that law."
Songer added that if other agencies attempted to take guns from residents of his county under the new laws, he would consider "standing in their doorway" to prevent it.
The paper reported that other law enforcement officials have also voiced opposition to the measure, with some saying they will delay enforcement at least until they see the outcomes of lawsuits currently challenging the initiative. There's a further push for allowing cities and counties to opt out and become "Second Amendment sanctuaries" exempt from the regulations.
Republic Police Chief Loren Culp in Ferry County told Fox News, "I cannot and will not enforce this law. It goes against the oath of my office.
"The state constitution is even more explicit than the U.S. Constitution: The right of the individual citizen to bare arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired," Culp explained.
He has asked the town council to consider becoming a "sanctuary city," and the vote is expected in March.
What do the new restrictions include?
I-1639 imposes several regulations, including prohibiting the sale of semi-automatic rifles to adults under the age of 21, and requiring handgun purchasers to sign a waiver allowing law enforcement to access their private medical records. It also creates a new crime of "community endangerment" making gun owners criminally liable in the instance that someone such as a child or a felon gets their hands on an "improperly stored" firearm and displays it publicly or uses it in a crime.
A coalition of opponents, including the National Rifle Association, are fighting I-1639 in court, saying it violates the First, Second, and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, along with the commerce clause and state's own constitution.
Prior to the ballot measure's passage, several law enforcement agencies came out against it, including the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs and the Washington State Sheriffs Association.