Legal challenge mounted over legislation, which prevents people under 21 from buying certain firearms
'Sheriffs in a dozen Washington counties are refusing to enforce the state’s new restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic rifles.
A state-wide initiative approved by voters in November raised the minimum age at which a person could purchase such weapons from 18 to 21, while adding expanded background checks and gun storage requirements.
The measures were seen as one of the more comprehensive of a series of gun-control reforms enacted in the US in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year.
However, the new rules have been challenged in a lawsuit filed in federal court by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation.
The advocacy groups claim the new purchasing requirements violate the right to bear arms and stray into regulation of interstate commerce, which falls under the purview of the federal, not state government.
Sheriffs in 12 mostly rural Washington counties, along with the police chief of the small town of Republic, have said they will not enforce the new laws until the issue is settled by the courts.
“I swore an oath to defend our citizens and their constitutionally protected rights,” Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones said. “I do not believe the popular vote overrules that.”
Supporters of the initiative say they are disappointed, but noted the sheriffs have no role in enforcing the new restrictions until 1 July, when the expanded background checks take effect.'
Read more: Sheriffs refusing to enforce new Washington state rules on semi-automatic weapons