OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee mailed letters to 262 firearms dealers in the state – warning them they are required to follow I-1639.
The letters were mailed to firearms dealers in counties where Sheriff’s previously indicated they would not enforce the measure.
I-1639 seeks to curb gun violence by toughening background checks for people buying semi-automatic rifles, increasing the age limit to 21 for buyers of those guns and requiring safe storage of all firearms.
"Local officials' personal opposition to I-1639 may have created confusion regarding firearms dealers' legal responsibilities," Ferguson said.
Because no court has struck down any provision of the initiative, Ferguson’s office said firearms dealers are required to comply with state and federal law as a condition of their federal licenses.
"We wrote this letter to ensure these dealers have accurate information about the initiative to avoid legal jeopardy because of statements made by local elected officials,” Ferguson said.
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"Despite what some of these sheriffs would have people believe, no one has the ability to pick and choose which laws to follow," Inslee said. "It's very simple: Our state's voters overwhelmingly approved stronger background checks and gun safety measures, and dealers will be required to comply with those laws."
In mid-February, Ferguson also sent a letter to some law officials who stated they wouldn’t impose the measure and warned them of the potential legal consequences.
The letter informs dealers of their license requirements, and of the possibility of having their licenses revoked, plus facing state or federal criminal charges, if they break the law.
Initiative 1639 took effect on Jan.1 of this year. Here are some of the provisions:
• Makes it illegal for a person under 21 years of age to buy a semiautomatic assault rifle.
• Makes it illegal for any person to sell or transfer a semi-automatic assault rifle to a person under age 21.
• Allows a person between the ages of 18 and 21 to possess a semi-automatic assault rifle:
1. In the person’s residence or fixed place of business;
2. On real property under his or her control;
3. When engaging in, or traveling to or from, a lawful outdoor recreational activity;
4. When engaging in target shooting at an established, authorized range; or
5. If the semiautomatic assault rifle is unloaded and either in secure gun storage or secured with a trigger lock for the specific purpose of (i) moving to a new residence; (ii) traveling between the person's residence and real property under his or her control; or (iii) legally selling or transferring the firearm.
Other provisions in the initiative are set to take effect starting July 1.
For those who need clarity on the initiative, the attorney general's office has created an FAQ.
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