In an attempt to fend off potential firearm restrictions from President Joe Biden’s administration, a growing number of jurisdictions across the country are declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” Now, Sheriff Rob Snaza wants Lewis County to take a stand.
The second-term sheriff brought the idea to county commissioners Tuesday, saying it was prompted by concerns from the public and “a number of correspondences from other sheriffs across the state as to where our country is at.”
While many “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions are largely symbolic, in Washington state they’ve rested on some law enforcement’s refusal to enforce gun laws. In 2019, for example, a slew of sheriffs — including Snaza — said they wouldn’t actively enforce I-1639. The voter-approved measure raised the legal purchase age of semiautomatic rifles to 21, among other restrictions, and was decried by many as unconstitutional.
Back then, some residents pushed Lewis County to declare itself a “Second Amendment sanctuary.” Commissioners instead opted to wait for the courts, which ultimately upheld I-1639 as constitutional.
This week, Snaza said his proposal would be “nothing more than a statement.”
“And it says, basically, Lewis County will abide by the Second Amendment. And if we want to be up front, we have to realize we’re continually being challenged,” he said. “Our Second Amendment rights are being chipped away, our First Amendment rights are being chipped away, and when you lose the first two, the rest go.”
When asked about the likelihood of Lewis County becoming a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” Commissioner Gary Stamper said he “hadn’t had a chance to think about that too much.” Commissioner Sean Swope declined to comment.
In March of this year, Cowlitz County commissioners passed a similar resolution declaring they wouldn’t support the “enforcement of firearms laws which are repugnant to the state and federal constitutions,” according to The Daily News.
The resolution also encouraged the sheriff and prosecuting attorney to “continue discretion in non-enforcement of unconstitutional mandates infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.”
Nationwide, state-level measures to thwart Biden’s gun control ambitions — aimed at curbing gun violence and continued mass shootings — have also gained traction. In Texas, for example, a Republican-backed proposal would prohibit the enforcement of new federal gun regulations.
Snaza’s proposal came after an update to commissioners in which he denounced new police reform measures approved by the state Legislature this year, including those that limit officers’ ability to use force and require officers to record interrogations.
While Snaza denounced lawmakers for continuing to “bring laws in place to make this profession less honorable,” he did not cite any specific gun restriction laws he opposed, and did not respond to requests for comment by The Chronicle’s print deadline.
“I’m not trying to make this a political statement,” Snaza told commissioners. “I’m trying to remind all of us that our constitutional rights are what lead us in government.”