Sheriff Gene Dana

Sheriff Gene Dana

Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana issued a statement Friday morning announcing that Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office deputies will not be enforcing the provisions in Initiative 1639 voters approved this past fall.

“There are a number of lawsuits and appeals related to I-639. Until the constitutional issues are resolved by the courts and the dust settles, I am instructing my deputies to take no enforcement. When it is resolved by the courts, I will work closely with our prosecutor for the best lawful course of action,” Dana said in a release from the Sheriff’s Office.

Among its provisions, I-1639 requires buyers of semiautomatic rifles to be at least 21 years of age, complete a firearms safety course and undergo an enhanced background check that includes mental health history. The initiative also requires that guns be kept secured and subjects gun owners to criminal charges if their firearms are used by someone else to commit a crime.

Sheriffs in Yakima, Klickitat, Lewis and Ferry counties previously announced they will not enforce the provisions of the initiative. The initiative is slated to take effect in July. The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the initiative.

Dana acknowledged that as a sheriff he has sworn an oath to preserve, support, protect and defend the Constitution, and that pledge “does not include disclaimers or variances,” but that the I-1639 is not workable.

“At issue with I-1639 is that, as written, we cannot apply most of the provisions,” Dana said in the release.

In the news release, Dana said he disagrees with blaming law-abiding citizens for the actions of criminals.

“The Second Amendment grants individual rights to keep and bear arms, not specific to hunting or organized target sports, but for individual protection. I-1639 asks my deputies to criminally charge a citizen if, without their knowledge, someone steels one of their lawfully owned guns and uses it in the commission of a crime. We will not do this. Just as we would not charge the owner of a truck if someone stole their keys and used it to mow down pedestrians.

“We need to protect people from violent criminals; we don’t do this by blaming law-abiding citizens for the actions of those criminals. We don’t do this by blaming the tool used for committing violent crime, be it a hammer, a car, a gun or a knife. We blame the individual who committed the crime and we hold them accountable,” Dana said.

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