Top law enforcement and county leaders across two states are making themselves heard when it comes to gun control efforts they argue are unconstitutional.
In Washington, sheriffs in as many as 20 of the state’s 39 counties are loudly opposed to a sweeping new law that was approved by voters in a statewide referendum last year. The move, I-1639, was popular in the state’s Democrat-heavy urban centers across the Seattle-Tacoma area, which was enough for it to pass into law with 59 percent of the vote. The supporters of the initiative were gun control groups and a handful of billionaire tech donors who filled the campaign’s $5 million war chest.
The law raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 and makes it harder to purchase an AR-15 or similar firearm by mandating an enhanced background check, proof of training, a $25 fee, and a 10-day wait before picking up the gun from a dealer. There is no exception to those who already have a concealed carry permit or have legally purchased a rifle before. It also has a gun lock requirement.
Republic Police Chief Loren Culp first proposed a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City Ordinance” making I-1639 null and void in the city soon after it passed last November and since then a number of county sheriffs have joined in refusing to enforce the new gun law, especially while the initiative is being challenged in court.
“I agree with my other county sheriff colleagues. I am instructing my deputies not to enforce Initiative 1639 in Grant County while the constitutional validity remains in argument at the federal courts level,” Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones said. ” I swore an oath to defend our citizens and their constitutionally protected rights. I do not believe the popular vote overrules that.”
With Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham replacing pro-gun Republican Susana Martinez in the Governor’s Mansion, fellow Dems in the state legislature are eager to expand gun restrictions and are rushing a series of bills to her desk. The state House approved HB 8 last week, which aims to make it a misdemeanor crime to sell or transfer a gun in a private transaction without a background check performed by a third party. A Senate committee has passed their own version of the bill, slammed by gun rights groups, in a party-line vote.
Meanwhile, HB 83 would implement a “red flag” law allowing courts to temporarily seize the firearms of gun owners thought to be at risk and a third bill, HB 130, would set a mandatory gun lock requirement. Many of the bills were on Lujan Grisham’s wish list of proposals backed during her campaign, during which she had the enthusiastic support of gun control groups.
This blitz has 29 of New Mexico’s 33 sheriffs uniting in opposition to the package of anti-gun legislation by issuing a declaration through the state sheriffs’ association, holding the proposals are duplicative, could trample on constitutionally guaranteed rights, or just plain unneeded.
“You’re just taking guns out of law-abiding citizen’s hands,” said Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton. “This is not going to affect the criminals out there. They’re going to be able to get guns and they do not follow the law.”