Nearly every sheriff in the state of Washington has backed a letter in support of the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment.
The Washington State Sheriff’s Association recently released the letter regarding each sheriff’s “individual and collective duty to defend all of the constitutional rights of our citizens,” singling out the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.
Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott was one of the 37 sheriffs to sign the letter. He said the letter was in response to the often-asked question by members of each sheriff’s community: Do you support the Second Amendment?
“We wanted to put something out that was a message that reflects all of us collectively and our support of the Constitution,” said Scott.
It’s not just the Second Amendment, said Scott, though it is the one specifically mentioned in the letter — “Importantly, the Second Amendment of our divinely inspired Constitution clearly states, ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ We hereby recognize a significant principle underlying the Second Amendment: the right to keep and bear arms is indispensable to the existence of a free people.”
Scott said the letter should reassure the public as to where the sheriffs stand on the issue.
“When we take office and swear in our deputies we swear an oath to the State Constitution that gives us our authority, and the people who elect us to the office and give us our authority,” said Scott. “We wanted to reassure citizens of our oath and support of the rights in the U.S. Constitution and we’re always going to do that as best we can in holding that oath of office and supporting their rights.”
All sheriffs and law enforcement members are fielding more questions than usual, regarding the police reform legislation — especially provisions limiting use of force, pursuits and types of responses to calls for service. Many of these reforms became law on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of legal issues currently being debated with legislators, the state Attorney General’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office,” said Scott.
Those conversations will continue throughout the year as the impacts of the legislation is weighed and potential fixes for unintended consequences of that legislation are considered.
Citizens concerned about law enforcement’s ability to respond and enforce the laws has more asking specifically about the right to carry firearms at a time when nationally and locally there’s a great deal of talk about additional restrictions on firearms.
Scott is a firm supporter of the Second Amendment.
“I think anyone who legally can carry and is willing to accept the responsibility and liability should,” he said.
Basically, if it’s legal for you to carry and and understand the responsibilities that go along with it, Scott thinks you should.
“It’s not something to be taken lightly, and just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should if you don’t understand the responsibility and liability,” he said.
Only two sheriffs did not sign the letter. One was the Kitsap County Interim Sheriff John Gese, who didn’t sign the letter because he was not elected to the office, but appointed in place of recently-retired Sheriff Gary Simpson. He did, however, tell the Kitsap Sun newspaper that he likely would have signed the letter if he was the elected sheriff. The other was King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht.
“As your elected sheriffs, we individually and collectively pledge to do everything within our power to steadfastly protect the Second Amendment and all other individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” read the Sheriff’s Association letter.
“We understand the destructive influences currently existing in our country will only relent when women and men everywhere genuinely care for each other. We must rely on Providence and care deeply about preserving the Constitution and its freedoms in order to be a strong and prosperous people.”