AP Photo/Alan Diaz

Ever since New Mexico decided to push for more gun control, namely universal background checks, there have been sheriffs in the state who are standing defiant. They have vowed not to enforce the laws being proposed, issuing a warning to lawmakers.

Of course, lawmakers have opted to ignore those warnings.

I’ve said from the start that a law that is unenforced is a law that doesn’t exist except as words on a page. It seems that others share that opinion.

Mandatory background checks for most gun transfers, court-ordered seizures of firearms, and the denial of self-defense rights to those convicted of domestic violence offenses feature in the bills moving through the state legislature. The measure requiring background checks for all gun transfers, except between close family members and cops, seems to have excited the greatest opposition.

“The gun-related measures have drawn opposition from all but a few of the state’s 33 county sheriffs,” the Albuquerque Journal notes. “In addition, at least 24 counties have passed ‘Second Amendment sanctuary’ ordinances in opposition to the legislation pending at the Roundhouse.” The Quay County resolution, as an example, dedicated county officials “to support decisions by our Sheriff to not enforce any unconstitutional firearms law against any citizen.”

In response, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, slapped back at what she called “rogue sheriffs throwing a childish pity party.” That’s probably not the sort of language likely to win over the rebellious, largely rural residents to whom county officials are catering.

Confrontations of this sort in other states—including Colorado, Washington, and even New York—resulted in the kneecapping of intrusive firearms restrictions. And comprehensive background check (CBC) laws in Colorado, Delaware, and Washington produced an increase in such checks only in Delaware, researchers from the University of California-Davis reported in a study published in 2017 in Injury Prevention.

Laws work only if they’re enforced.

Sure, some people will follow the law simply because it’s the law, but the truth is that all laws come with the threat of force being used. Someone has to enforce those laws. Otherwise, they’re just stern suggestions.

If law enforcement refuses to enforce those laws, people are free to ignore said laws until the cows come home.

It’s no different than what some inner-city communities will get if they ever get their dream of disbanding the police. They think it’ll be great, but with no one to enforce the law, there will effectively be no law. Criminals will run the streets.

In this case, the laws being ignored are selective. They’re being undermined by people who have sworn to support and defend the Constitution and who take that oath seriously, unlike people such as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham who seem to think her oath means she can do what she wants.

Frankly, these sheriffs are national heroes as far as I’m concerned. Their heroic stands are likely to spark some kind of backlash at the state level, at least it will as someone figures out just how to lash back. They’re making a stand regardless, and that’s important.

While it won’t change the law, it will change how people live with it, and that ain’t nothing.