Summary of Sheriff Kevin Morris's Comments on I-1639 (Gun Control Law)
Here is a summary written by our Executive Board Secretary. This meeting took place on March 4th, 2019 at the regular Douglas County Republican monthly meeting in East Wenatchee.
Douglas County Sheriff - Kevin Morris
Douglas County Sheriff Kevin Morris, spoke to the Douglas County Republican party for forty minutes, answering questions from concerned citizens. Sheriff Morris, was invited to speech on issues surrounding I-1639. Morris opened with a statement that he that Douglas County has three pressing issues that must take priority for the Sheriffs Office.
They are first, the Opioid problem, second, mental health issues and third violent crimes. These issues became a theme of Morris' remarks. He also made a point that Douglas County was going to enforce the law, but would do so with much discretion. Morris added that the sheriffs department would not make any arrests or issue any citations on site for any I-1639 offenses. The sheriffs office would just refer all matters to the Douglas County Prosecutors Office.
Morris fielded many questions from the large group. One lady wanted to understand if her 18 year old daughter could still hunt with her own riffle. Morris ensured the lady that hunting was one of the many outlined exceptions for use in the law. Another person asked Morris if we follow the constitution or the laws. Morris asked for clarification, then said we will not violate any rights, rules or laws in the enforcement of other laws. Morris went back to this point multiple times in reference to other questions.
Others asked about how do we challenge this law moving forward. Morris went on to explain he felt it was unconstitutional and that the court challenges were already underway. Another person present stated, that since the Washington Supreme Court is just a extension of King County politics that we may face years before the issue is taken up by the US supreme court. To that point Morris was in agreement, this could be a long drawn out court battle.
Morris was asked about the exemptions for use of a firearm in the measure, and assured the group that there are many listed exceptions for use. Morris was also asked if he had personally reached out to the prosecutors office about how they will follow up with sheriffs referrals. He assured the group he had, and that the prosecutor supported the way he was addressing the issue. A question was raised about if your home was broken into and your guns were stolen then used in another crime would you be held liable if you had no knowledge of the break-in.
The example that was used was if you were on vacation out of state. Morris made note of the fact that the law gives a five day grace period to report for if you know or reasonably should have know your guns were stolen. you would not be held liable for not reporting the guns stolen given you met this provision. Morris was asked about if he was open to being a sanctuary gun county. He said NO, I have an oath to uphold the laws. I will not allow Douglas County to be a sanctuary county on any matters.
Morris was also asked if he got a letter from the Attorney General about how he should enforce the law. Morris said he did get a letter outlining what the state expects the enforcement should be. This line of questioning led to many negative remarks toward Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The point was also made that the Washington State Patrol was tasked with over sight of enforcement. Morris was then asked how do we deal with the rise of socialism in laws that are supported by King County. Morris went on to inform the audience that had a great passion of getting out in front of the people to engage on the issues facing the Sheriffs office. Finally Morris was asked if all the Sheriffs were against the I-1639. Morris went on to say no, but the vast majority were. He believed that the King County Sheriff might have supported the measure.