Initiative 1639 being challenged in court
By CHERYL SCHWEIZER
EPHRATA — Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones has announced his department will not enforce an initiative that changes state laws on gun purchases, background checks and gun storage until a case challenging its constitutionality is adjudicated in federal court.
“I agree with my other county sheriff colleagues. I am instructing my deputies not to enforce Initiative 1639 in Grant County while the constitutional validity remains in argument at the federal courts level,” Jones wrote in a statement released Monday morning. “I swore an oath to defend our citizens and their constitutionally protected rights. I do not believe the popular vote overrules that.”
Jones answered questions during the public comment period of the Grant County Commission session Monday. He said he would have issued a statement earlier but was out of town. Commissioner Tom Taylor said he supported Jones’ decision, adding that he was speaking only for himself. Commissioners Cindy Carter and Richard Stevens are out of the county.
Jones said in his opinion he had the right to issue his instructions. “It’s called discretion.” If the measure is ruled Constitutional, Jones said he would consult with the prosecutor’s office on what to do next. “I will partner closely with our prosecutor’s office to ensure the best plan moving forward,” he wrote.
Jones said he has been contacted by a number of Grant County residents about the measure. “Tons of comment from them showing their disapproval.”
The measure creates criminal penalties for “unsafe storage,” and prohibits people 18 to 21 years of age from buying or possessing certain kinds of weapons. Jones said in his opinion the storage requirements presented a safety issue for people living in rural areas.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.