Sheriffs threatened for not supporting gun measure

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EPHRATA — It seems ironic coming from gun control advocates.

But law enforcement agencies across Washington state are looking into threats to kill county sheriffs who have said they will not enforce last year’s gun control measure, I-1639, which was approved by state voters with a little more than 59 percent of the vote.

According to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, around 1 p.m. Monday the department was told about threats made online specifically against Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

“(S)heriffs that are non compliant will be shot. (B)y me,” said the online threats, apparently posted on a Facebook page. “Ozzie Knezovich is gonna get a bullet in his skull.”

Sheriffs and police chiefs from counties across less densely populated eastern Washington, including Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones, have said they will not enforce the new measure until its constitutionality has been determined by the courts.

In response, someone posted a comment on Facebook to Jones’ statement in which they said “(I) am going to kill every single one of them,” referring apparently to Republican elected officials.

“Sheriff Jones is aware of the threats made on social media and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office is cooperating in the investigation,” reads a statement from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

“Spokane County Detectives are investigating these online threats, and this information will be forwarded to the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) and law enforcement agencies across the state,” read a statement from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

I-1639, as passed last November, would impose tighter restrictions on gun ownership, including raising the age limit to buy a gun from 18 to 21, and creating more expansive background checks. The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation are suing to block implementation of the measure, claiming it violates the U.S. Constitution.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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