washington state sheriffs assault weapons ban registration
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The Seattle Times’s Danny Westneat takes the side of a rural gun dealer and police chief who have decided a new state law increasing the minimum age for purchasing assault rifles from 18 to 21 doesn’t apply to them.

“Reckless sheriffs”? You keep saying these words, Lester Black. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

Westneat’s column comes as more than a dozen county sheriffs pledge not to enforce the entirety of the new gun control laws. These rural cops are subverting state law and the will of nearly 60 percent of Washington’s voters that agreed we should pass these common-sense gun control laws. Westneat thankfully questions the intentions of these reckless sheriffs, saying they are “way out of their lane on whether the new law is constitutional,” but for some reason he doesn’t bring his critical eye to this legal technicality over age minimums.

Am I the only one who thinks he typed “gun lovers” in a snarky, derisive way?

Technicalities can certainly doom laws in court and who knows, maybe these gun lovers have a point, but they don’t appear to be confident enough to bring this argument into a court of law. And Westneat doesn’t seem to have reached out to the state’s legal authorities, nor does his column quote any legal experts. He instead agrees with these gun lovers and then chides the gun reform lobby for needing to be “more bulletproof than this.”

Well Danny, you may need a more bulletproof legal team if you’re relying on a cop and gun dealer in West Richland for your advice.

– Lester Black for The Stranger, Don’t Believe the Seattle Times, it’s Still Illegal for Teens to Buy Assault Rifles

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  1. a pattern is emerging here…they pass laws and we ignore them…sounds similar to something that happened in our past…anyone recall what that was?

  2. The Sheriffs are keeping their oath to defend the US Constitution from all threats, foreign and domestic (in this case, domestic).

  3. “Well Danny, you may need a more bulletproof legal team if you’re relying on a cop and gun dealer in West Richland for your advice.”

    Wait, how many times have the gun control lobby carted out some cop to tell us that we’re not worthy of owning semi automatics as if they were preaching their own first hand gospels?

    So now cops aren’t reliable because they are upholding the constitution?

    Something tells me the idea of examining arguments that support any given statement is a bit of a foreign idea to the author.

    • The original article in the Seattle Times isn’t a lot better. Some of the comments are pretty rich, though one of them nailed it dead on: ignoring some laws because you don’t like them will lead to more of the same, and a contempt for the law in general.

      Don’t forget, the libs started down this path with sanctuary cities and local LEOs and pols choosing to ignore immigration laws. Apparently it’s not as much fun for them when others start playing by the same rules.

      • “ignoring some laws because you don’t like them will lead to more of the same, and a contempt for the law in general. ”

        That’s rich. First off, it’s not just “because we don’t like them.” These laws are objectively in violation of the constitution.

        Secondly the constitution is a law that supersedes all other laws and it’s being ignored, hence the current situation. However, these sherrifs are actually upholding the superior law, not simply ignoring a law for the thrill of it.

        That commenter had a point, but seems to have a perfectly inverted understanding of how it actually applies to the real world.

        • Mm. I don’t disagree with you that the the foundational justification for ignoring the law is different between the ICE issue and the firearms sales.

          I’d say, though, he(?) had a decent understanding of how it works in practice. Most people these days aren’t really as well-versed in the Constitution as one might like. Rather, this is schoolground logic: little Billy breaks the rules and doesn’t get punished for it, so we can break the rules too! I’m not saying the Sherrifs aren’t doing this out of principle, but from outside the debate it simply looks like more cops are choosing to ignore laws they disagree with … and that has a downward push on lawful behavior in general.

        • I dunno about “principle”, but I’m pretty sure a sheriff should enforce the laws which the people who elected him want enforced. I suspect the rural folk absolutely do NOT want this unconstitutional nonsense enforced.

  4. I received my first guns at 8 years old. A .20 guage pump shot gun. A .30-30 pump rifle. A .22 pump rifle. All bought on same day from Western Auto store. My sister had her first .410 shotgun at 6. We hunted ducks almost everyday if duck season. My younger brother had his first at about 8. My Father had several shotguns and rifles. He collected Black powder guns too. he had over 40 of them.
    Not a one gun shot anybody in our ownership. My father was too short to get in service in WW-1 so was never in service. My brother and I both served in Vietnam. We both killed Viet Cong. But nobody else.
    We were taught how to and not handle guns. My kids learned how to shoot guns and gun safety. in 30’s now and never shot anyone.

  5. What is really reckless in Washington State is politicians subverting the law and not allowing Seattle police to arrest drug addicts getting new needles in downtown Seattle. These drug addicts committing felonies daily with no enforcement. Druggies, robbing, burglarizing and engaging in other violent crimes to support their habit and no enforcement in Seattle.

    And now they want to take my guns away because a delusional belief that it makes the State safer. It’s not about safety, it’s about socialist ideals wanting to disarm citizens. If it was about safety they would go after driving and texting which kill and injure hundreds of people daily across America. But that doesn’t fit the liberal scumbag narrative.

  6. Though he’ll never admit it, I suspect Lester Black is most upset here with the rural proles ignoring the dictates of their sophisticated, superior, liberal urban masters.

    • I suspect you are right. Many on the left are convinced that they are morally and intellectually superior to those who don’t share their views. When their policy prescriptions aren’t sheepishly followed by everyone, some do get pretty bent out of shape. This really comes to a head when the policy is about guns because they really want to force gun owners to comply but gun owners, particularly 2A activist types, recognize that the whole question of government control comes down to force and the guns and gun owners are the embodiment of resistance to that force – kinda the point.

    • Here’s his urban sophisticate byline:

      “Lester Black is a staff writer for The Stranger, where he writes about Seattle news, cannabis, and beer. He is sometimes sober.”

      Yep, that’s someone whose opinion means something right there.

  7. Same thing happened in Colorado between rural Sheriffs and socialist statists. At what point do we decide to go our separate ways? America was once a great place to live. I fear for the future. One side wants everyone to obey, the other just wants to be left alone.

    • One protects illegal invaders that drain our money and civic resources and the other protects our basic human right to self defense.

  8. One supports the Bill of Rights and ignores the illegal laws made in spite, the other group chooses to disobey laws that were made legally. There is a BIG difference here.

  9. Those sheriffs are breaking the law and should be fired immediately and charged in a court of law to prevent other Sheriffs from pretending to be SCOTUS.
    Agree with the law or disagree with it, but fight it in the courts and ballots, not by breaking it.

    • Sheriffs are elected not appointed, kind of tough to “fire” them. By the way FU unless you’re being sarcastic or something similar.

    • I guess you’re one of the folks who hasn’t grasped the Rule of Law has lapsed in America and the judiciary is just as compromised politically as the other two branches of government. I myself realized it as the FBI Director and his “resistance” cronies felt compelled to depose a sitting government official they didn’t like – and they’re still not under arrst or in jail.
      Tyranny of the majority is a real threat. When a majority of fools become leaders and issue edicts contrary to the Constitution, a citizen has a moral duty to disobey, or even fight for that matter.
      Now get the hell off my lawn.

    • SurfGW,

      Agree with the law or disagree with it, but fight it in the courts and ballots, not by breaking it.

      Once again I am compelled to remind you that the righteous purpose our criminal justice systems is upholding JUSTICE. Enforcing the UNJUST whimsical dictates of legislatures and bureaucracies is NOT a righteous purpose of our criminal justice system.

      If the state government passed a law requiring police to perform open and humiliating strip searches in public on women who wore dresses in public (because they could be hiding all sorts of contraband under those dresses), should the police dutifully and forcefully strip every woman naked in public who wears a dress in public until the courts render a decision on the constitutionality of a such a law? The obvious answer is NO!!!

      And neither should police enforce laws that strip people of their clothes firearms in public.

      • Once again I am compelled to remind you that the righteous purpose our criminal justice systems is upholding JUSTICE

        That’s why it’s said we have a legal system, not a justice system.

        • It’s interesting how words are used.

          Generally people call it a “legal system” as do reasonably high quality attorneys.

          The government on the other hand uses the word “justice” as much as they can, often incorporating it into the name of a building in which a court is housed. It’s also used in bills and laws.

          Kind of like how most of us call it “prison” while the government often calls it a “correctional facility” within the “department of corrections” staffed by “correctional officers” instead of “prison guards”.

        • Danny Griffin,

          While we may very well have a legal system today rather than a justice system, that is a perversion of the original and righteous intent.

          • I’m not disagreeing with you, but having watched and read a number of court cases, too often justice is clearly not served.

    • It was already fought in court — the initiative clearly violated laws that specify how it is to be presented, and a circuit court ruled exactly that.

      But guess what? The higher court overruled it, saying — literally, mind you — that the plain letter of the law didn’t matter. I figure we should have the exact same respect for this law that its creators have for the idea of law itself — NONE.

      This new law exists only because the people who created it broke the law and got away with it.

      The difference between them and me (aside from the Constitution being on my side) is that not having billionaires on my side to buy judges, if I ignore the law I’m less likely to get away with it.

    • That’s an interesting take. . .

      Say that the Federal government passed a law that required every citizen to assist by any means necessary a slave-taker in the recapture of a runaway slave; Would you willingly comply? It was the law in this country in 1861.

      Say that the Federal government passed a law that required you to rigorously boycott Jewish businesses, forbade you from marrying a Jew, and required that you submit genealogy records proving that you were not a Jew if you wanted a good job. Would you comply? It was the law in Germany in 1935.

      Think of nearly any onerous, unjust, grossly unConstitutional law that you can imagine, and at one time it was probably the law in this country.

      Do you still believe that such laws should be obeyed and enforced until they wind their way through the courts to an uncertain conclusion?

      If so, then you are living in the wrong country, and in the wrong century.

  10. What’s “reckless” is the treasonous passing of laws in contradiction to the Constitution. Subverting the Constitution is what has happened in WA. I pity them if they get their wish to have guns completely banned.

  11. Ok, so the libs don’t like the sheriffs position on a law that infringes on the 2nd A. But their all for tearing up voter approved laws like , say, measure 11 laws, death penalty, abortion & so on. I’m with the sheriffs… their not under the thumb of the city mayors or governors… GO SHERIFFS… M A G A …!!!

  12. There is nothing new about arrogant, self righteous busybodies passing laws that aren’t supported by the general population. The classic example is Prohibition. Another was the 55 mph national speed limit. We know how faithfully drug laws aren’t obeyed. There’s also nothing new about the busybodies’ indignation at being ignored.

  13. The more illegal laws they pass, the more citizens are turned into criminals. If we’re gonna get hanged for a rabbit we might as well get the sheep too.

    The Constitution does not GRANT ANY RIGHTS. in the Bill of Rights. It declares them off limits by congress and the states. Those RIGHTS EXIST IN AND OF THEMSELVES.

    Therefore the Sheriffs are acknowledging their supercedence and disregarding the unlawful laws written by a group of men/women for political purposes. The Constitution says you can’t do that.

  14. A few things

    1) I find it hard to believe the Seattle Times agrees with the sheriffs. Id LOVE to read that article.

    2) Does the author of the piece not realize that there is a monster lawsuit against i1639 running through the courts right now? I would definitely say there is confidence in the legal stance of the sheriffs.

    3) The posturing is meaningless until these counties’ Sheriffs are put to the test. Has anyone under 21 bought a semi automatic rifle from a shop in one of these counties?

    4) The way i1639 was written, the statute forbidding 18-20 year olds from buying semi-auto rifles went into effect 1 January, but the part of the law actually DEFINING a semi auto doesn’t hit the books until 1 July. It is my understand that as of right now, it is only illegal for 18-20 year olds to buy something that doesn’t technically exist right now. Is this the loophole that the Times is talking about?

  15. I presume Lester was very high when he wrote this since Westneat is very adamantly anti gun along with everyone else at the Seattle Times. Trying to square their enthusiasm for ignoring Federal drug and immigration laws while fussing about Sheriffs’attitudes towards state gun laws is an activity that no physicist would dare try.

    • “….an activity that no physicist would dare try.”

      Because physicists typically value their sanity, such as it is. “Mad Scientist Disease” is a thing and trying to emulate the mental state of these folks would only hasten the progression.

  16. We do not, as Mad Max says, need to go back to 1775 for a similar situation, just consider the numbnuts running sanctuary states and cities. Are they not ignoring laws and laws which bear no semblance to being unconstitutional.

  17. I should have read the original piece first.

    Btw, OP did a horrible job explaining what this article was about.

    At issue is the fact that i1639 had 2 phase in periods

    1) Banning the sale of semi-auto rifles to 18-20 year olds
    2) requiring extra background checks/training for 21+

    To make the 2nd part work, they had to define what an “assault rifle” is. There is not currently a legal definition on the books in Washington State. The definition they chose was so broad that yes, it includes the Ruger 10-22.

    However, since THAT part of the law goes into effect on 1 July 2019, that is the part of the law that holds the definition of the assault rifle and the restrictions on 21+ purchases.

    The first part, banning 18-20 year olds from buying assault rifles outright, does not contain the legal definition of assault rifle.

    Therefore, it is the interpretation of many that the 18-20 year old ban on the purchase of semi auto rifles is unenforceable because the class of weapons it bans “do not exist” legally.

    This would be a tough court case, and as far as I can tell, it has not been tested yet. In 4 months it won’t matter anyway, unless SAF/GOA/NRA can get the law repealed or delayed.

    It sounds like Lester Black is taking issue with the Seattle Times’ legal department in agreeing with the assessment that, based on a technicality, the law has no teeth until 1 July.

    Which is particularly rich coming from someone who specializes in writing about cannabis in a state that has legalized marijuana in defiance of federal law. (Not that I disagree with that, I say make it all legal).

    • Unfortunately, the ballot referendum process in several states, like Washington, provides opportunity for exactly that.

        • It shouldn’t but, unless and until the Supreme Court clearly delineates what exactly “reasonable restrictions” does and does not mean vis-a-vis the right to keep and bear arms, laws like the one in Washington can and will be passed. Personally, I think every local, state and federal gun control law constitutes an infringement that is expressly prohibited by the constitution but I am not 5/9ths of the supreme court.

      • Yep. Every state with an initiative process is vulnerable to the same hijacking.

        Nevada had the same thing happen, but they escaped most of the consequences because the people who drafted the law were idiots. It’ll come around again, just like it did in WA, and it’ll be worse.

        Utah has a similar initiative process that has been rarely used…so far. Look for the progbots in SLC to start their own billionaire-backed push sometime soon.

  18. NO, I REFUSE.

    I love it when the anti-gun cultists have a foot stampy tantrum when I tell them that.

    • lefties do indeed get pissy when you tell them “No” and go on about your business. Kinda funny actually.

  19. The big government disarmament complex is real.

    Subverting State Law? Stupid people need to be hanged!

    Ur not subverting anything when ur a treasonous traitor to this country and Constitution.. these Sheriffs happen to remember their oath!

    Also 60percent of illegal treasonous voters does not represent anything but a crime of treason with the death penalty.

    Its time to get out the iron fist and resist and not comply with illegal laws that violate the Constitution and ur god given natural rights.

    Gov is forbidden from regulating a right that is why its called the BILL OF RIGHTS something explicitly meant to be untouchable by government…. yet all they do is pass illegal laws against it!

  20. What needs to be remembered is that it takes resources to enforce laws, and in these states, the sheriff Is the one elected to make those decisions. They decide staffing levels, and the priority of laws to enforce. Thus, for example, on Friday nights, their 911 operator gets calls for both an armed robbery in progress and a minor fender bender. Which gets a deputy dispatched now, and which doesn’t? Maybe they should staff more on Friday nights, so that booth can have deputies dispatched, but that might mean no officers available a Monday morning. These sheriffs are the ones who get to decide where and when their officers expend their time. If they are allocating too many resources to arresting pot smokers, and not responding to armed robbery calls promptly, their voters can replace them at the next election. These sheriffs are essentially deciding to expend zero of their budgets enforcing these laws, knowing that the voters who put them in office will turn them out if they spend too many of their scarce resources enforcing laws that the voters believe to be unconstitutional. The state, no doubt, can use their own cops, their own resources, if they don’t like the resource allocation decisions made by the county sheriffs. But then may run into problems getting convictions from judges who can be turned out of office by those very same voters.

  21. I’m not usually much for schadenfreude but I do have to find it somewhat amusing how the Left sees no problem with disobeying laws they don’t like, allowing/encouraging government agents and institutions to do the same and they call this a great thing.

    Of course as soon as someone is openly disobeying a law the Left actually likes

    And this is the direction the Left has pushed, well maybe shoved, us in. The country becomes more and more ungovernable as the rule of law is dismantled piece by piece by both sides. It reminds me of that proverb For Want of a Nail.

    • I have had this argument with leftists before about the general erosion of the concept of rule of law when they push for ever more onerous regulation of certain aspects of life while choosing to champion lawlessness in others (i.e. the gun control vs. illegal immigration contrast touched on in this thread). Shockingly often, their reasoning is something along the lines of, “But the laws I oppose are unjust and the ones I support are just.” How anyone can fail to see the logical impasse that sort of position puts them in is beyond me.

  22. Do a search for “Mayor fires Police Chief” (minus the quotes) and you will get many links to many articles about various town and city mayors firing police chiefs. However, with the exception of some sheriffs who are appointed as opposed to elected, most county sheriffs ARE elected and thus cannot be so easily fired.

    This explains why appointed police chiefs – and by extension the police officers who serve under them – must look primarily to the local politicians for job security, while most sheriffs look to the U.S. Constitution and the people of the counties they serve in, as it is they who directly elect them into office. This helps to ensure that sheriffs will respect your constitutional rights, as it is not just the right thing to do and affirms the oaths they have taken, it is also the crystal clear path to their own job security if they want to be reelected by those very same citizens.

    Perhaps we need to change the system so ALL police chiefs are elected by We The People to ensure they respect our rights as well. Radical leftist politicians – who tend to hate the police and military anyway – be damned. This nation has far too much painful experience with what happens when politicians try to micro-manage military engagements for political purposes, as opposed to putting the right combat savvy commanders in charge to get things done in real world workable ways.

    Ditto with law enforcement. Politicians micro-managing law enforcement for politically correct “virtue signaling” / reelection schemes, instead of letting the professionals do their jobs according to the proper rule of constitutional law, is an absolute certain recipe for disaster.

    Baltimore has 500+ patrol openings they cannot fill because nobody wants to work there anymore. 68% of police polled there do not believe the people they work for support them. This tends to seriously lower the bar for the type of applicants they can get and be willing to accept, and so the downward spiral continues. That path leads nowhere good.

  23. That “60 percent of Washington’s voters” was made up of very few rural people, and overwhelming support from Seattle and a few other cities. In other words, these rural sheriffs are refusing to enforce a law that was imposed on them from the cities.

    This is just generally true of the “will of the people” in states with initiative processes. They’re just a club for the majority to beat the minority into submission. It’s “democratic”, exactly the kind of democracy this country was designed to avoid.

  24. When they start following federal immigration laws maybe people will take a look at their silly gun laws. Or maybe not.

  25. I think what they meant was: “Washington legeslators are ‘Reckless’, ‘Subverting Constitutional law…’ with new gun rights infringement attempt”

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