SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson pledged to go after gun dealers and law enforcement who fail to enforce the new set of laws created after Initiative 1639 was passed by voters last fall.
“This law will be enforced,” Inslee said during a news conference Thursday. “The Washington State Patrol can effectively investigate crimes, and these are crimes that happen if they contravene this initiative.”
Ferguson said there have been laws he has fundamentally disagreed with, but he still did his job.
“Look — do people have strong views on issues related to guns? Yes. But the rule of law is what binds us as people,” Ferguson said.
Inslee’s news conference with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility in Seattle happened the same day the nation solemnly marked the anniversary of a school massacre in South Florida.
On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. In the end, 17 people were killed; the violence spurred nationwide protests and activism by teens.
Nara Kim, a sophomore at Shorewood High School in Shoreline, spoke during the news conference in Seattle. She said her generation “is all too familiar” with gun violence.
“We are defined by our experience with gun violence. We are categorized by the active shooter drills we’re forced to experience,” Kim said. “We are represented by our countless lockdowns.”
Initiative 1639 became law earlier this year. The measure, among other things, makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy a semi-automatic firearm, requires more extensive background checks and requires the safe storage of firearms.
More than a dozen sheriffs and police chiefs, as well as gun dealers, say they won’t uphold the law.
“This is a futile grandstanding by the sheriffs,” Inslee said. “We understand they’re politicians and they’ve, unfortunately, acted more like politicians than sheriffs.”
Inslee said he hasn’t spoken directly with any of the law enforcement officials who have come out against the new gun laws. These law enforcement leaders represent rural counties ranging from Grays Harbor and Pacific counties on the western coast to Benton, Yakima and Stevens counties in Eastern Washington.
In the city of Republic, in Ferry County, Police Chief Loren Culp has said the voter initiative “completely flies in the face of both the U.S. and state constitution.”
Gun dealers, Inslee said, could also face “potential criminal and civil liability as well” if they fail to enforce the law.
Paul Kramer, whose son, Will, was critically hurt during a mass shooting in Mukilteo in 2016 was at Thursday’s news conference as well. Kramer was a loud and active backer of Initiative 1639.
“It’s so heartbreaking. I’ve witnessed, I’ve seen the families of the friends of my son’s, whose children were murdered,” Kramer told KOMO. “I’ve witnessed their extreme grief.”
Will Kramer was wounded after Allen Ivanov stormed a house party on July 30, 2016. Ivanov shot and killed Anna Bui, Jordan Ebner and Jacob Long. Bui and Ivanov once dated.
In August 2016, Ivanov pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kramer said gun laws across the country need to change.
“We as Americans cannot just standby and continue to let this happen and accept it as the status quo,” Kramer said. “It’s wrong.”