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Attorney general sends 262 firearms dealers reminder to follow Washington state law

Just because some sheriffs won't enforce I-1639, doesn't mean firearms dealers don't have to, AG Bob Ferguson warns.

Firearms dealers need to follow Washington state's newest gun laws, even if sheriff's say they won't enforce them, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson warned Thursday. 

Ferguson sent a letter to 262 firearms dealers in counties where sheriffs have said they are not enforcing Initiative 1639, one of the nation's toughest gun laws. Sheriffs in at least 12 counties have said they would not enforce the measure until its legality is decided by the courts. 

“Local officials’ personal opposition to I-1639 may have created confusion regarding firearms dealers’ legal responsibilities,” Ferguson said. “We wrote this letter to ensure these dealers have accurate information about the initiative to avoid legal jeopardy because of statements made by local elected officials."

The letter reads, in part:

"We want to prevent you and your business from finding yourself in legal jeopardy because of a misunderstanding of the law caused by statements made by elected officials in your area. We hope the following information will provide clarity." 

Read the letter in its entirety here

The letter explains that firearms dealers could lose their licenses and face state or federal charges if they break the law. 

The prohibition on selling semi-automatic rifles to people under 21 is already in effect. The remaining provisions of I-1639 goes into effect July 1; those include enhanced background checks, incentivizes safe storage, and authorizes the state to require gun sellers to add $25 to sales of semi-automatic rifles to pay for new regulations. 

The letter to dealers follows one directed at law enforcement that Ferguson sent last month

“If you personally disagree with Initiative 1639, seek to change it,” Ferguson wrote. “Or file a lawsuit challenging it. But do not substitute your personal views over that of the people.”

The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a lawsuit challenging the initiative as unconstitutional and infringes on second amendment rights.

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