Yacolt has put its support behind upholding Second Amendment rights, as town council approved a resolution stating as such during its June 17 meeting.
Yacolt approved the resolution following pressure from residents and a local gun rights group to make a stand against restrictions on semiautomatic rifles brought about by Initiative 1639 that was approved last year. The North County Sons and Daughters of Liberty (NCSDL) led the push for Yacolt to make a stand against the initiative, having formed recently in an attempt to get local jurisdictions to come out against the new law.
The resolution itself does not name I-1639 specifically, rather it cites court cases, the U.S. and the Washington State constitutions, charging councilors “to neither authorize nor support the enforcement of any act, order, rule, law, or regulation” that would go against the right to bear arms. Yacolt is the first local city or town to make a resolution against laws like I-1639, although in January the Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners approved a similar resolution.
In discussion before the vote, Yacolt Mayor Vince Myers tended toward the council making a proclamation, not a resolution, reasoning that there could be unintended consequences by making a resolution. A proclamation would be more a statement of opinion that Myers felt would be a safer alternative and could help drum up support for getting rid of I-1639’s laws.
“The best means … is a proclamation and getting citizen groups like (NCSDL) together to form an initiative to get back on the ballot to repeal this piece of junk law,” Myers said.
A resolution is less legally-binding than an ordinance, as the latter makes changes to local laws.
Myers said that he invited someone from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to the meeting, though none were present. As Yacolt does not have its own police force the town’s law enforcement is the sheriff’s office, which has previously made its stance known that it will uphold the resolution.
“There is no change for us,” Clark County Undersheriff Mike Cooke wrote in an email to The Reflector regarding the resolution. “We will enforce the law as it stands or in accordance to future court rulings.”
Currently, I-1639 has received a legal challenge by the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation. The suit specifically names Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins.
“I was in shock,” Shauna Walters, lead organizer for NCSDL, told The Reflector in an interview after the meeting. She said that during the meeting the back-and-forth between councilors made her question if the town would approve a resolution.
Walters said that after discussing with several NCSDL members the group’s focus will be putting support behind her bid for Battle Ground City Councilor, running for the seat currently occupied by Stephen Phelps. Phelps is not running for re-election, though Walters is up against Neil Butler and Candy Bonneville for the seat.
After the August primary election the group will look to La Center as the next focus of NCSDL’s efforts to get another resolution passed locally, Walters said. Battle Ground has made a proclamation upholding the separation of powers between legislative and judicial authority, essentially stating they will follow any court decisions overturning the initiative but until then will uphold the new law.
Walters acknowledged that legally the resolution didn’t have “much teeth” in terms of enforcement power, though she said that having something in writing provided at the very least a symbolic stand against the initiative.
“It’s raised awareness that people, just everyday people can change their government,” Walters remarked.