REPUBLIC — Police Chief Loren Culp has no intention of enforcing I-1639, the initiative passed Nov. 6 by a minority of counties in Washington State.
“The second amendment says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” stated Culp. “As long as I am Chief of Police, no Republic Police Officer will infringe on a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, period.”
On Nov. 9, Culp proposed an ordinance to make the City of Republic a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City.”
The purpose of the ordinance is stated as “To prevent federal and state infringement on the right to keep and bear arms; nullifying all federal and state acts in violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and Article 1 Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution.”
The ordinance states no agent, employee or official of the City of Republic, or any corporation providing services to the City of Republic shall provide material support or participate in any way with the implementation of federal or state acts, orders, rules, laws or regulations in violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution.
“I’ve taken three public oaths, one in the U.S. Army and two as a police officer. All of them included upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States of America,” Culp stated.
Asked if his officers were in favor of the Chief’s stance to not enforce I-1639, Culp responded, “Yes, and if they weren’t, they would get immediate education on their oath of office.”
The proposed city ordinance would not affect City Ordinance 94-05, which prohibits, for safety reasons, the discharge of firearms in the City except in the defense of self or others.
The ordinance requests involvement of neighboring communities and local jurisdictions within the State of Washington to pass similar ordinances.
“I would say that I agree to a lot of this,” said Tonasket Chief of Police Darin Odegaard, adding he would need to read into it further. “We need to protect our rights. Chief Culp is most often right on, when it comes to the constitution.”
“I think every law enforcement officer should re-read their oath, and if they can’t abide by it then quit being a cop,” said Culp.
The ordinance also urges action by the State Government through calling on legislators to introduce similar legislation on a state level during the next legislative session.
“I’m thinking local opposition to attacks on the Second Amendment may be our best chance at protecting our rights,” said Joel Kretz, District 7 State Representative.
The proposal suggests the ordinance become effective after passage by the city council, approval by the mayor and five days after publication, as required by law.
Asked if taking a stand against the ordinance put him at risk, Culp replied, “Not at all. The Second Amendment is the law of the land in the United States of American, and if that is not enough, the Washington Constitution has Article 1, Section 24 stating ‘The right of the individual to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired.’”
“The law can’t be much clearer, I’ll stand with the law,” said Culp.
The initiative increases background checks, training, age limitations and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semiautomatic assault rifles, adding a fee of $25 (to be adjusted for inflation) for each purchase to offset part of the cost of implementing the initiative.
The initiative also creates new criminal offenses for legal firearm owners whose guns get into the hands of a person who is not legally possess a firearm and uses it in certain crimes, provided the gun was not securely stored or had a trigger lock in place.
A new class C felony of Community Endangerment Due to Unsafe Storage of a Firearm in the First Degree would apply to gun-owners if the thief uses the gun to cause personal injury or death. The gun-owner could be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail.
A new gross misdemeanor of Community Endangerment Due to Unsafe Storage of a Firearm in the Second Degree would apply to the gun-owner if the thief discharges the gun, and/or “uses it in a way that shows intent to intimidate someone or that warrants alarm for the safety of others or uses the firearm in the commission of a crime.” The gun-owner could be punished by up to 364 days in jail. The cost to prosecute and defend a comparable misdemeanor are estimated to be $1700.
If an aggravated exceptional sentence were imposed, a sentence exceeding 12 months would result in the gun-owner serving time in a state prison.
According to the voters’ guide, average costs to prosecute and defend a comparable felony are $2,260 and, for a comparable misdemeanor, approximately $1700. The cost of an average county jail bed is $106 per day, and a state prison bed $101.
The Department of Licensing is expected to see one-time costs of at least $1.1 million and $500,000 annually thereafter to implement the initiative. It is undetermined what costs will be for city and county law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, indigent defense attorneys and county jails.
The initiative passed with 60.33 percent, but only 13 of Washington State’s 39 counties were in favor of passing it. All the counties in favor are in western Washington, except for Spokane and Whitman Counties. Spokane County passed it with just 51.1 percent of the vote, whereas in Stevens County, to the north of Spokane, 72.1 percent voted against it. King County, with a population of around 1,931,249, passed it with 77 percent. Stevens County’s population is around 43,120 and Okanogan County has a population of about 41,120. Ferry County has about 7,551 living in it.
“Most people who live in big cities are less independent than most in rural counties. When you live in the country, you have to be more independent and rural living draws more people who are,” said Culp. “God, Guns and Freedom built this country. I think a lot of people have forgotten that.”
Culp said he had concerns for citizens statewide to be able to defend themselves or own guns with the new initiative, but less concern for local citizens.
“Take a look at history, where are most mass shootings taking place? In gun-free zones and places where law-abiding citizens’ right to self-protection is limited,” said Culp.
Concerns Culp said concerns he is hearing from his own citizens include “becoming a felon if someone breaks into their house and steals their gun and hurts or kills someone.”
“It makes about as much sense as you becoming a felon if someone steals your car and drives through a crowd of people,” said Culp. “Eighteen-year-olds can vote and serve our country in the military, and they should also be able to own any firearm.”
Asked about the idea of eastern Washington becoming a 51st state, Culp said that could be a good move, “or a move to Idaho where I’ve heard they still believe in freedom.”
Meanwhile, in Oregon, voters in eight counties passed ballot measures called Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances.
Termed “Gun Rights Sanctuary Counties” by supporters, the measure would require the county sheriff to determine if any federal, state or local laws and regulations relating to firearms, firearms accessories or ammunition violate the U.S. or Oregon constitutions. If so, it would be unenforceable in the county, and being deemed unconstitutional would prohibit the counties from authorizing the use of resources for enforcing said laws. Counties passing Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances are Douglas with a percentage of 72-27, Baker (66-34), Columbia (52-48), Klamath (63-37), Lake (72-28), Linn 50-49), Umatilla (65-35), and Union (58-42).
Culp said he believed I-1639 would be overturned, as it is unconstitutional on both the state and federal level.
“I would encourage everyone to contact their local representatives and encourage them to make their local jurisdictions a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary City/County,’” said Culp. His proposed ordinance to the Republic City Council can be found on the Republic Police Department Facebook page.
“I can’t make legislation, but I can recommend it,” said Culp.