Washington State Sheriffs Association denounces governor’s gun control agenda

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The Washington State Sheriffs Association last week issued a letter denouncing Gov. Jay Inslee's plan for gun control restrictions in the Evergreen State.

The association released the letter days after the governor's State of the State address. The association said Inslee's new restrictions would erode constitutionally protected rights without addressing the root causes of violent crime.

"We are particularly concerned with the proposed so-called 'assault weapons ban' and 'permit to purchase' laws," the association stated in its letter.

In the State of the State address in front of the Legislature, Inslee said gun violence is a significant driver of increased crime.

"This isn't a surprise considering the gun lobby has worked for decades against common sense gun safety measures," Inslee said. "Fortunately, in Washington state, voters and legislators have been willing to take on the gun lobby. We've enacted several measures to strengthen background checks and limits on the kinds of weaponry used in mass shootings."

Inslee then stated three ways Washington would act this year. He said people should be required to have safety training before they can purchase a gun.

"We expect that people have completed safety training in multiple parts of our lives," Inslee said. "We should expect that before someone buys a gun, they have some basic safety training. It has worked in other states. It's time to put it to work in Washington."

Inslee then said Washington should increase accountability of gun manufacturers and dealers and "give families and victims access to justice when those entities fail to do their duty."

He then listed his third focus — a ban of “military-style assault weapons” in Washington.

"These weapons are designed for the sole purpose of destroying lives — the lives of school children, law enforcement officers, concert-goers, nightclub patrons and people gathered in houses of worship," Inslee said. "We owe our children the assurance we're doing all we can to keep them safe. Let's pass all three bills and prove to them that the gun lobby doesn't make the rules in Washington state — we do."



The Washington State Sheriffs Association’s letter said sheriffs are responsible for two tasks.

"The first is to protect life and property by enforcing criminal laws," the letter read. "The second is to uphold and protect guaranteed rights. We take both responsibilities very seriously."

The association said more restrictions shift focus from offenders to law-abiding citizens, sending the wrong message and eroding constitutional rights upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

The association said the magazine ban the state passed had already been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and that mandated annual background checks to buy a firearm are also under challenge.

Currently, the Washington Supreme Court has upheld the high-capacity magazine ban and a federal judge has scheduled a trial in the legal challenge to Washington state's new ban on high-capacity magazines for late 2023.

The association said that the governor's proposed legislation is inconsistent with the Washington state Constitution and the federal Second Amendment.

"The new proposals to restrict gun ownership would further infringe on rights that have been clearly and repeatedly established," the letter reads.

The association said the state should focus more on dealing with offenders without weakening the rights of all citizens.

"The rise in violent crime that so concerns citizens has happened even as regulations and restrictions on firearm ownership have grown," the letter reads. "Of course, this is because the people who commit violent crimes simply don't concern themselves with obeying rules about guns. The people impacted by restrictions to constitutional rights are those who obey laws in the first place — the people who we know aren't the problem."

Toward the end of the letter, the association said it's committed to working with Inslee and legislators to strengthen the criminal justice system and reduce violent crime while safeguarding rights.

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  • Dirtgirl64

    We need better gun laws. End of story. The proponents of the Second Ammendment need to chill the F*** out. No one wants to take your guns away. We just want to make it harder for those who shouldn't have guns, to get them. Why is that such a bad thing? And then there is the assault rifles. No one needs to be running around with one of them, no one!!!! It's just stupid.

    Thursday, January 19 Report this

  • Legalgunowner57

    I agree with the sheriffs department’s reply to the governor’s office I have been a legal and responsible gun owner for 40+ years. I believe all people have the right to protect our children and property as well as ourselves. I also believe that law abiding citizens shouldn’t be punished because a few people are afraid of gun’s they should be afraid of criminal’s and people that have mental health problems! As for our children the school’s should be more secure with metal detector’s at the entrance where everyone enters children included! NO open gate’s so the public can come and go. There are better ways to keep schools safe for our children The problem we face at this time is uninformed people Nothing worse than to go buy a uniformed opinion! people need to google assault rifle! the definition states a assault rifle has a switch that would change the furring of the rifle from single shot to semi automatic to full automatic!!! The ar 15 is a semi automatic Varmint rifle good for Predator’s! ground squirrel’s, badgers,Coyotes, bobcats, and more. We have had semi automatic rifle’s for 40+ years with no problems! I wish the world was a safer place but it is not! As for me I follow the laws and keep my opinion’s to myself I wish other people would do the same.

    THE LAW ABIDING CITIZEN

    Thursday, January 19 Report this

  • BlacktailBilly

    Criminals by definition do not obey laws. Passing laws targeting law abiding citizens has not, and will not impact public safety, and gun control proponents know this already. It isn't about guns, it's about control. Legislators and prosecutors refuse to be tough on crime, instead passing laws limiting law enforcement from chasing felons, and giving them programs they ignore instead of significant prison time. Democrat cities are overrun with crime, despite tighter and tighter restrictions on weapons. Criminals ignore laws, there is your common sense, people. Demand accountability from our leaders, and demand laws that target felons, not law abiding gun owners. The Sheriff's Departmrnts across Washington know the truth, and they know these proposed new laws will not help. Murder is and has been illegal for as long as Washington has been a state. Arrest and convict those felons caught with firearms illegally and give them serious prison time. Revoke the new laws that handicap law enforcement from removing felons from our streets. Stop attacking legal gun owners rights.

    Friday, January 20 Report this

  • joesmith

    Everyone is a legal owner until their not. Everyone is a law abiding citizen until their a criminal.

    Friday, January 20 Report this

  • Tre1818

    Thank you to the Washington State Sheriff's association for denouncing the governor's attempt to erode more of our constitutional God given rights as law abiding citizens. This does nothing to those who already don't obey the laws in place. It only hinders the ability for those of us who do obey the laws in place to protect our families and property as we see fit.

    Friday, January 20 Report this

  • djdole

    Those who use the banal "criminals don't follow the laws / laws punish legal owners" line, are obtuse.

    True criminals don't follow laws, but SETTING laws allows prosecution of those criminals who break them.

    And no, those who obey aren't punished, because they BY DEFINITION, obey the laws.

    The only reason to be against enforcing gun safety and responsibility, is if you're intention is to be irresponsible, or encourage others to be irresponsible, and thus further promote unsafe practices.

    Also, personal anecdotes are not universal, so if you say you've been responsible and/or legal for decades, then OBVIOUSLY you're not the issue, so get a grip.

    Not EVERYONE should have a gun.

    This is CLEAR from the massive amount of gun violence.

    And no, the 2nd Amendment DOES NOT support UNREGULATED ownership. REGULATION is explicitly called out in it, as being a DEFINING TRAIT of those for whom the 2nd explicitly protects the rights thereof.

    Finally... the Constitution isn't "god given". The US is not and never has been a theocracy.

    The founding fathers, and all legislators who added amendments to the Constitution, are NOT gods or demigods.

    Guns are human inventions, as is the Constitution, and the rights of well-regulated militia to be armed, given by MEN.

    The Constitution wasn't penned by god, nor was it written to justify or validate anyone's religious beliefs. (In fact, quite the contrary. It explicitly was intended to protect FROM endorsing any particular religion.)

    Friday, January 20 Report this

  • LivingLittle

    Inslee wants to protect our kids? How about not making drugs legal? You don’t think all those needles and hopeless addicts running through our neighborhoods now are dangerous? You’re delusional Inslee.

    Friday, January 20 Report this

  • dietbuddha

    The majority of guns used to commit crimes are easily concealable, not the scary looking rifles. The statistics on crime make it pretty clear.

    I would like to have seen an proposition on education as many don't seem to understand how guns function so they can have an informed opinion.

    It would have also been good to see a proposition on actually understanding and addressing the driver of increased violence and depression, not zooming in only only the gun violence.

    Sunday, January 22 Report this