ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Sheriffs from Winnebago, Ogle, Stephenson, Lee, DeKalb, Boone and other counties across the state announced Wednesday that they will not enforce Illinois’ recently passed law that requires current owners of “assault weapons” to register with the state.

The Protect Illinois Communities Act bans the future sale of about 100 different semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, and rifles because they are now considered assault weapons. Long-gun magazines with more than 10 rounds and handgun magazines with more than 15 rounds are also now illegal in Illinois.

“This appears to be another rush to judgment on a bill that was introduced with very little oversight and very little public review,” said Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle.

“There is so many unknowns, it’s another one of those laws that passed that they put unrealistic expectations out there, and there is no way to follow those things up,” added Stephenson County Sheriff Steve Stovall.

The law allows owners of certain semi-automatic guns to keep them but the weapons must be registered by Jan. 1, 2024. Violators can be charged with a Class 2 felony.

“People that owned these weapons prior to today will have until Jan. 1, 2024 to submit the endorsement affidavit stating that they possessed the banned item prior to Jan. 10, 2023,” Gov. JB Pritzker’s spokewoman, Jordan Abudayyeh said.

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, Lee County Sheriff Clayton Whelan and VanVickle issued similarly worded statements on Wednesday, saying:

“When I was sworn into office, I accepted the duty to protect the rights provided to all of us in the Constitution.  One of those enumerated rights is the right of the people to keep and bear arms provided under the 2nd amendment.

“I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution.  Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for Ogle County, proclaim that neither myself or my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing individuals that have been charged solely with non-compliance of this Act,” the statements continued.

Later, Stovall said on Facebook, “Recently, the Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 5471 and it was signed into law by Governor Pritzker. Let me be clear, this piece of legislation will do nothing to make our communities safer! Criminals don’t follow the laws, that is what makes them criminals. This unconstitutional legislation infringes on our 2nd Amendment Rights, which makes any enforcement of HB5471 contrary to my oath of office.

“As the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for Stephenson County, neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing law-abiding individuals that have been arrested solely for non-compliance of this Act,” he continued.

Stovall said that there are always extra factors that have to go behind the weapon, stating that it is not the weapon that is the problem, but the person that is attached to it.

“There is not one weapon that I have ever seen or handled that fires itself,” he said. “It’s not the gun that did it, it’s those people, so we have to protect the rights of the law-abiding citizens.”

VanVickle said that members of the Illinois Sheriffs Association and the surrounding counties have stood together that this is an unlawful legislation that the governor’s office has put out.

“We made the decision we are not going to go out actively look for law-abiding citizens who don’t follow what we believe to be an unconstitutional mandate and put them in jail,” VanVickle said.

Both Stovall and VanVickle believe that the need is to work to help law enforcement and the judicial system to deal with mentally ill people who are already in the criminal system, and not banning tools.

“It’s not the intent of law enforcement to make law-abiding citizens criminals,” VanVickle said. “They have a right to defend themselves, they have a right to own and possess firearms, and that’s upheld in the Constitution. And, as your Constitutional Sheriff, that is something we have planned to continue with.”

Similar statements were issued by sheriffs in Knox, La Salle, and Iroquois, among other counties. Sheriffs said that they took the oath to protect their communities and that they stand by that oath.

State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) says he and other gun owners will not follow the law because it’s unconstitutional.

The Illinois State Rifle Association has said it plans to file a lawsuit, challenging the law.