Police Chief Pledges Officers Won't Enforce Washington State Gun Control Law

Guns collected in a California gun buyback program / Getty
November 16, 2018

The police chief for the Washington town of Republic promised residents that his force would respect their right to bear arms, no matter the state's restrictive gun laws.

In a Facebook post last week, Chief Loren Culp argued the U.S. Constitution ensured the private right of individuals to their firearms. "As long as I am Chief of Police," Culp wrote, "no Republic Police Officer will infringe on a citizens right to keep and Bear Arms, PERIOD!"

The post had been shared over two thousand times by Friday morning. Republic is a town of just over a thousand residents.

Culp's post followed a statewide vote on Washington State Initiative No. 1639 (I-1639). The Seattle Times described the initiative as making "Washington’s firearms laws among the strictest in the country." The initiative passed with 60 recent of voters in support.

In comments to KXLY, Culp said disregarding the initiative's result was the lawful thing to do. "We took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Washington," he said, and the initiative "completely flies in the face of both the U.S. and state constitution."

Pro-gun and Bill of Rights groups have taken measures in response to last week's vote. The Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association filed suit in court Thursday, challenging the bans as unconstitutional. "Initiative 1639 classifies ordinary, recreational firearms in common use as ‘assault’ weapons, denies young adults the right to self-protection, and bans the sale of firearms to out-of-state residents," according to the NRA.

"A handful of billionaires put in millions of dollars to buy votes and we were outspent," said Alan Gottlieb of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. "But while they were able to buy votes, our hope is they won’t be able to buy judges."

Chief Culp is a veteran of the U.S. Army.