Last week’s statement by Utah sheriffs that they’ll die before enforcing any new gun laws they deem unconstitutional made good theater.

But before the Utah populace gets all worked up in the lawmen’s patriotic froth, there are a couple of things to consider — first and foremost that their stand is not patriotic at all but un-American.

As set forth in the very U.S. Constitution the sheriffs claim they’ll defend to the death, we have a strict procedure for determining the constitutionality of laws — and that role does not fall on the men and women wearing badges.

Police officers take an oath to enforce the law of the land, not to make laws or decide whether or not the Founding Fathers would have approved of any measure passed by the legislative branch. That is the job of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ironically, law enforcement officers spend their days issuing tickets and arresting people for laws many of us disagree with. They rightly do it because that’s how the system works. If we want to argue our ticket, they instruct us to “tell it to the judge.”

And it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about gun laws, marijuana laws or jaywalking laws.

So sheriffs should know better than anyone the importance of the rule of law. They should know this is the fabric that prevents our society from devolving in to the kind of chaotic mess prevalent in some parts of the world where the only real law is brute force and the power of cold cash.

The brilliant and orderly procedures set down in the U.S. Constitution ensure the rule of law. If any player or players in this system decide to go rogue and become laws unto themselves, the structure that has held this nation together for 236 years is at risk of collapse.

What people need to realize about our potentially rogue sheriffs is that in claiming to honor the Constitution they are actually defying it.

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