Initiative 1639 was approved by voters in November, 2018. But since then, it's become controversial. The new law raises the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 years old. It also calls for enhanced background checks and makes buyers take a firearm safety course.
Several Washington Sheriffs and Police Chiefs have taken a stand against I-1639, calling it unconstitutional. They say it flies in the face of the Second Amendment, and some have said they will not enforce this law.
KHQ reached out to Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to ask where he stood on the new law and the sheriff's spokesman pointed us to a statement that Sheriff Knezovich had sent to someone else.
Here is a response Sheriff Knezovich sent:
- I fought against 1639
- I spoke against 1639
- I have done multiple radio shows denouncing 1639
- The people of the state of Washington passed 1639
- 1639 is unconstitutional at the State and Federal level
- 1639 is being challenged in court
- I have offered to join that lawsuit
- The attorneys aren’t sure how to add me in the lawsuit since Sheriff’s have no skin in this one.
- These other Sheriffs are purely grandstanding when they say they won’t enforce 1639 because there is nothing for us to enforce
With this said, what is it you would like me to do? As Sheriff there is nothing, at this time, for me to enforce as it pertains to 1639. The day there is I’ll evaluate it and if it is against the Constitutions of the State of Washington or that of the United States I will stand against it.
As it is now, 1639 is not constitutional, is being challenged in court and there is nothing for me to enforce.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich
KHQ asked for a comment from the Washington State Attorney General. We revived this response from policy director Kate Kelly:
“We are aware of this situation and are actively monitoring developments as they occur. Attorney General Ferguson has been clear that he is committed to protecting the legal and constitutional rights of Washingtonians, and upholding the will of the state’s voters in passing Initiative 1639. You can learn more about Initiative 1639 and the role of the Attorney General in the implementation of the new law on our website here http://www.atg.wa.gov/initiative-1639. Our office is confident that Initiative 1639 is constitutional, and we intend to defend it in court.”