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Grand Coulee supports Republic police chief's stance against new gun law


Last updated 11/28/2018 at 11:15pm

In a symbolic gesture at their council meeting on Nov. 20, the Grand Coulee City Council unanimously came out in support of the chief of police in Republic, Washington, who has announced he will not enforce a new gun law passed by voters in the recent election.

Initiative 1639 passed in Washington state with 60 percent of the vote. In Ferry County, where Republic is located, 73 percent voted against the initiative. In Grant County, where Grand Coulee is located, 68 percent voted no, and in Grand Coulee in particular, citizens voted 175-138, or 56 percent, against the measure.

Taking effect on Jan. 1, 2019, I-1639 raises the age limit for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. Beginning July 1, it requires purchasers to pass an enhanced background check, show proof of firearms training, and to wait 10 days before getting the gun.

The new gun law also makes gun owners guilty of “community endangerment” if their gun is not properly stored and is accessible by a child or by anyone who then uses the gun in a crime.

“I’ve taken 3 public oaths, one in the US Army and Two as a police officer,” Chief Loren Culp wrote on the Republic police station’s Facebook page. “All of them included upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States of America. The second amendment says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. As long as I am Chief of Police, no Republic Police Officer will infringe on a citizens right to keep and Bear Arms, PERIOD!”

Culp also proposed to the Republic city council that they pass a resolution declaring Republic a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City.”

The Grand Coulee council last week voted to come out in support of Culp, discussing the importance of the Second Amendment, the possibility of passing their own ordinance if Republic does, and what the ramifications could be for doing so, such as losing state funding.

“Bottom line in my mind is that the government, federal or state, cannot reduce the lawful citizens’ rights granted in the US or Washington State Constitutions,” said Grand Coulee Councilmember Tom Poplawski in an email to The Star on Tuesday.

“The discussion raised by the Republic police chief goes to the oath taken by public elected, hired officials,” Poplawski continued. “We all agree by oath to enforce the federal and state constitutions above other laws. When a conflict with the constitution exists, the founding document takes precedent.

“One of the first classes that is taken by all enforcement officers is constitutional law. (Should also be required for lawmakers.) You learn, and I have taught, you don’t violate the rights given to citizens provided in the Constitution. Lawmakers and enforcement officers need to stand behind the oath they have taken and not create laws or enforce laws that infringe on the citizens’ rights.”

The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation jointly filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 15 against the state of Washington in an attempt to block the law. The suit was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.


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