One month after Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin posted a message on his department’s website explaining that he would uphold both the state and federal constitutional provisions on the right to keep and bear arms, his statement is suddenly catching fire on the internet.
Irwin, who has been sheriff of the large central-Washington county – which stretches from the Columbia River sagebrush in its northeast corner to the Cascade Crest – posted the note back on Dec. 22. But it was apparently not until this week that gun rights activists became aware of it, thanks to a story on KAPP news in Yakima on Tuesday.
Because the nature of Sheriff Irwin’s remarks so closely reflect what has happened elsewhere since President Barack Obama last week essentially declared war on gun owners and the firearms industry – with sheriffs in several states saying they would not enforce regulations they believe are unconstitutional – a lot of people outside of central Washington are paying attention.
The White House has not reacted to these sheriffs.
Here is what Sheriff Irwin posted:
"As your elected sheriff for these past twelve years, I have renewed my oath each time you elected me to this high office, “I, Kenneth William Irwin, being first duly sworn upon oath, do depose and say that I will support the Constitution of the United States and laws of the State of Washington and faithfully and impartially discharge and perform the duties of SHERIFF of Yakima County, Washington, according to the best of my abilities, so help me God.” Both the Constitution of the United States (in the 2nd Amendment) and the Washington State Constitution (in Article 1, Section 24) include the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
"Our nation is going through a very difficult and disturbing time of violence against one another in which many types of weapons have been used. I have given this much thought and conclude that the best answers to curbing this violence will be the most difficult to achieve, will take continued effort, and should not be focused on a certain type of weapon as the symbol of violence. Taking guns away from eligible law abiding people who love this nation and its freedoms is not the answer and cannot be recognized as a lawful strategy.
"The only common thread in all violent acts is the perpetrator of the violence and that is where our focus should be. Individual rights can be protected if we move smartly to lessen violence in our society as together we improve awareness, treatment and maintenance of people in mental distress while also expanding keystone strategies such as the effective campaign against bullying and for positive role modeling in accepting and nurturing others. Additionally, we need to make sure we have a practical and effective process for background checks on all firearms transactions, stress continued improvement of firearms safety and firearms security, and definitely improve safety in public places such as schools.
"I strongly believe we must focus on strategies that will truly make people healthier and safer, while we also protect each of our Constitutional rights. We can do this … together."
Examiner tried to contact Sheriff Irwin but he did not respond by press time.
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