Washingtonians have loudly stated their interest in enhancing public safety. I am disheartened to see 13 county sheriffs throughout the state claim they will not enforce the law.

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I will remember forever Feb. 14, 2018. I will remember seeing the first news alert on my phone about a school shooting in Florida and brushing it off because I, like so many Americans, had become numb to our gun-violence epidemic. I will remember seeing the frantic social-media posts from my aunt and uncle. I will remember texting my mom, “Keep me posted how Jaime is. School shooting at her school.”

Finally, I will remember slumping into my chair at work as the sheriff announced that 17 people had been killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

About an hour later, I received confirmation that my 14-year-old cousin, Jaime Guttenberg, was one of the victims. No more could she and I joke about how we used to play tickle monster  when she was little. No more could she tell me her tales of dancing during halftime shows at Miami Dolphins football and Miami Heat basketball games.

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The last time I spoke with her was at a cemetery near New York City after our uncle, who had died from complications related to serving as a first responder on 9/11, was put to rest. I would never again get to speak with her because a single bullet from a legally purchased AR-15 had pierced her spine in the middle of her school’s hallway. She was one of the 17 victims whose lives were cut short in just six minutes.

The 19-year-old shooter legally obtained this high-powered weapon even though the local sheriff’s office and the FBI had learned of his threats to become a school shooter. Despite these red flags and his young age, Florida’s weak gun-safety laws allowed him to walk into a gun store and purchase a weapon meant for the battlefields of Parwan Province, Afghanistan, rather than the manicured streets of Parkland, Florida.

After the shooting, Florida’s Republican-controlled state House passed a package of public-safety laws meant to reduce the risk of future school shootings. Several of these regulations were later incorporated into Washington state’s Initiative 1639, which voters passed with an overwhelming majority in November. I am confident that these regulations, especially raising the purchase age for semi-automatic firearms to 21 and enhanced background checks, would have saved Jaime’s life.

Washingtonians have loudly stated their interest in enhancing public safety. I am disheartened to see 13 county sheriffs throughout the state claim they will not enforce the law.

I recognize how charged the gun issue is, but public safety officials take an oath to defend the law, the public’s security and the public interest. It is not within their purview to determine the constitutionality of said law.

My late uncle did not always agree with political decisions in his hometown of New York, but he put politics aside when duty called, and he served the public interest. He would have agreed with Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who opposed I-1639 during the elections but nevertheless recognizes that he must enforce it saying, “It’s a slippery slope when we decide what laws we are or aren’t going to enforce.”

I call on public-safety officials throughout Washington to serve like my uncle, an American hero, to help prevent others from suffering the same fate as my cousin, a victim of an American tragedy. Put aside politics, uphold the law and enforce Initiative 1639 to help protect all Washingtonians from the tragedy of gun violence.