County commission delays I-1639 resolution to revisit language

Grays Harbor County commissioners again postponed voting on a resolution opposing Initiative 1639, the sweeping gun control initiative passed by state voters last year. All three, however, indicated they were in favor of such a resolution.

The postponement was due partially to the return of Commissioner Wes Cormier, who has been away from the commission for several weeks due to illness.

“Wes hasn’t had an opportunity to review it,” said District 3 Commissioner Vickie Raines.

A similar resolution passed by Stevens County commissioners earlier this month included some language that differed from the current draft of the Grays Harbor County resolution. That language is being reviewed for possible inclusion in the Grays Harbor resolution, said Raines.

Commission president Randy Ross said he couldn’t speak for the rest of the commission but “we are all concerned” about the initiative. The delay in consideration allows for additional adjustments to the resolution to best solidify the commissioners’ objections to the initiative, said Raines, who added commissioners may add some “flair” of their own before the resolution is taken up at the next meeting.

Initiative 1639 passed last November with 59 percent of the statewide vote. Its provisions included raising the legal age to purchase semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21; requiring enhanced background checks, including mental health checks, for such firearms; requiring purchasers of semiautomatic rifles take a safety course regardless of age or experience; and requiring firearms be secured inside a home, and holding gun owners liable if a weapon is stolen and used in the commission of a crime.

Sheriffs and counties have come out in opposition to the initiative, declaring it infringes on the right to bear arms in the U.S. and state constitutions, and places local law enforcement in the position of making enforcement decisions when the language of the initiative does not give clear instructions how to do so. Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott and Pacific County Sheriff Robin Souvenir have both said they have instructed their deputies to document any possible violations of the initiative but not actively enforce them; rather, send their documentation to county prosecutors for review.

After state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent an open letter to law enforcement earlier this month that singled out the background check portion of the initiative, Scott said he and other sheriffs he’s talked to said they would conduct those checks as directed.