Stepankowsky column: Cowlitz County commissioners’ latest resolution on gun control an act of political pandering and grandstanding

Stepankowsky column: Cowlitz County commissioners' latest resolution on gun control an act of political pandering and grandstanding

ANDRE STEPANKOWSKY Cowlitz County commissioners are encouraging law enforcement officials to ignore gun control laws if they don’t agree with them. Last month, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution declaring they won’t support “enforcement of firearms laws which are repugnant to the state and federal constitutions.” The resolution has no legal authority, but it encourages police and the county prosecutor to “continue discretion in non-enforcement of unconstitutional mandates infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.” The vote was the board’s latest act of political pandering and grandstanding. On the face of it, the resolution may sound harmless enough. No one wants the Legislature to pass unconstitutional laws. After all, Americans have a long history of opposing laws they don’t like by objecting through both legal and illegal means. That’s how Blacks have fought segregation and prejudice. That’s how women got the vote. That’s how young people pressured the U.S. government to end the Vietnam War. However, the commissioners’ resolution is deeply disturbing for multiple reasons. For starters, in its quest to defend the constitution, the resolution itself encourages unconstitutional behavior. It urges public officials to flout the law, which by oath of office they are bound to uphold. It’s one thing for citizen activists to engage in acts of peaceful civil disobedience to resist a law or practice they find repugnant. It is quite another for a public official, especially a justice official, to ignore the rule of law if he or she doesn’t agree with it. […]

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