Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will explain new state gun requirements during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

A majority of Washington voters in November passed Initiative 1639, which requires enhanced background checks and extended waiting periods, increases the age requirements for semiautomatic assault rifles from 18 to 21 and secure storage for all firearms.

Knezovich speaks at noon Feb. 6.

The higher age requirement is already in effect, Knezovich said. Other pieces of the new law won't go into effect until June.

Knezovich said some of the changes are still "murky." Several sections of the initiative need to have rules designed and built, he said.

"We won't know the full impact until the bureaucrats sit down with the Legislature and craft the rules that go along with the initiative," he said.

The initiative created a new definition for "assault weapon," Knezovich said. The definition covers every semiautomatic gun, including pistols or rifles, particularly those with detachable magazines, he said.

"That means the gun I've used for the last 40 years to hunt small game like rabbits is now an assault weapon," he said. "That is the true defining moment of that initiative, that's really what they were trying to accomplish, is to get that definition."

Knezovich said he believes state Attorney General Bob Ferguson's legislative agenda is to ban all semiautomatic weapons.

Knezovich believes the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually overturn the rule, which he called unconstitutional at the state and federal levels. He said it doesn't create any positives.

"This thing was sold to the public as a school safety initiative; this has nothing to do with school safety, this isn't going to change that dynamic one bit," he said. 

The rule continues the rift between gun supporters and challengers, he said.

Knezovich said he would prefer to talk about the causes behind increased school violence in a generation.

"In my day, you would have been considered the biggest coward on earth to walk into a school and shoot unarmed people," he said. "There's only two things I've seen that causes the violence we face as a society — drugs and/or alcohol. I've never gone to anything violent that didn't involve one or the other."

Knezovich isn't sure how many people will attend his presentation, but said he's heard concerns from county residents since the initiative passed.

"Our founders created a fairly strong system," he said. "This will be reviewed by the courts."

Field Reporter, Spokane

Recommended for you