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Clever. We should have seen this coming.

Effingham County in Illinois and another handful of counties there pulled a page from the playbook of the political left recently and adopted a resolution saying it would become a “sanctuary county” and refuse to enforce gun law restrictions being considered by the Illinois State Legislature.

At issue are proposed bills to ban bump stocks, limit the capacity of gun magazines and make new age restrictions.

The “sanctuary” gambit is, of course, an echo of the tactic taken by several cities nationwide to direct their law enforcement officers not to cooperate with federal immigration officials in enforcing immigration laws and declaring themselves sanctuary cities.

That debate has roiled across the nation even here in Wisconsin where the state Legislature considered, but earlier this year did not adopt, measures to lessen state financial aids to any Wisconsin cities that took that path.

The Illinois fight pits the downstate, rural, gun-owning and hunting conservative part of the state against the Democratic urban area of Chicago — which is struggling with gun homicides.

It is also an echo of other fights over laws, government power and enforcement across the country and it’s an increasingly distressing one because the self-proclaimed “sanctuary” designation is based on the premise that we can pick and choose which laws we will enforce and obey.

That undercuts the principles of our founding fathers and the ideal that we are a nation based on law. It’s fine to oppose a law and to work to change it — that is our right as citizens.

But when individuals decide to be selective about which laws they obey, they frequently and appropriately often end up in court.

It is even more disconcerting when a government body — in this case Effingham County — or all the immigration-law averse sanctuary cities take up that position and decide which laws they will enforce.

We’re seeing more and more examples of this. Take, for instance, the states that have permitted recreational marijuana use by their residents, despite federal laws that say it is illegal. So you may be able to toke up in Denver, but if you try it in Racine County you could have a sheriff’s deputy at your door.

What would become of us, our system of governance and our rule of law if people and governments treated laws like they were cafeteria options? I’ll have some of this, no not that, let me try something else.

What would happen if the Mount Pleasant Village Board decided that speed limits weren’t really necessary in the village — it’s more important to get somewhere as speedily as possible? Or if the Village of Caledonia decided that nudity was actually a good way to save money on clothing bills and laundry costs and decided that public decency laws were no longer in effect. Oh, and if you drive into the village you will be expected to comply as well.

Nonsense, right?

Well, they’re not that distant from the sanctuary city and county designations. We live in a country that is — for the better — ruled by laws. If citizens or governments ignore those laws at their own pleasure, it breaks down the fabric of our society and our respect for each other and sets a course for anarchy.

If citizens or governments ignore those laws at their own pleasure it breaks down the fabric of our society and our respect for each other and sets a course for anarchy.
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