The Sheriff Revolt on New Gun Laws Shows Why America Needs More Decentralization

Monday, March 11, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Justin Murray
ActivistPost.com
MARCH 11, 2019

Recently, a dozen sheriffs in Washington State announced that they would refuse to enforce the newly passed referendum 1639 which raised the legal age of purchasing a firearm of any sort to 21, expanded background check requirements, increased the waiting period and mandated weapon storage when not in active use. Predictably, political proponents immediately threatened these sheriffs, who were hired to enforce county, not State, laws, with legal action. Of course, when I say passed, what I really mean is that 14 of 39 counties in Washington decided the referendum was a good idea.

Based on actual voting patterns, the victory of this particular bill can be almost entirely explained by the margin of victory in King County (506k), where Seattle is located, which accounted for 87% the margin of victory of the State-wide referendum (580k). This is a common phenomenon in many States that have a large single urban population. Another classic example is New York and the political dominance of the City in State-wide politics.

What the refusal of the 12 county law enforcement officials is doing is voicing displeasure with what amounts to a distant population dictating how they’ll operate in their own homes. Why are people in Seattle, who may never even set foot on the Eastern-side of the Cascades, let alone actually make that region their permanent home, imposing law on residents of Omak?

A nearly identical result of the above picture was experienced in Legislative Initiative 940, which mandated law enforcement personnel behave like good citizens, such as mandating de-escalation as first response and legally mandating police provide first aid to wounded individuals, including suspects shot.

Though to be fair to residents of King County, this reliance on State-wide referendums for local issues can backfire. Initiative 1634, which banned taxation of sodas and other items politicians in Seattle find in vogue to tax, also passed, essentially with only King, San Juan and Jefferson disagreeing with it.

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