New York lawmakers are poised to pass major gun control legislation that would expand the state's existing assault weapons ban and address gun ownership by those with mental illnesses, the first major legislative action in response to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
The measure passed the state Senate 43-18 Monday, and is being weighed by the Assembly Tuesday.
"This will be the toughest gun control package in the nation," Sen. Jeffrey Klein, leader of the Independent Democrat Conference that shares majority control with Republican senators, told The Associated Press. "All in all, it is a comprehensive, balanced approach that will save lives."
The vote comes as lawmakers in other states as well as the federal government wrestle with how to reduce gun violence after a series of mass shootings.
Under the measure:
*Police would create a registry of assault weapons. Those New Yorkers who already own such weapons would be required to register their guns with the state. Current state law defines assault weapons as having two "military rifle" features, but the proposal would reduce that specification to just one feature and make the unsafe storage of assault weapons a misdemeanor.
*Private sales of assault weapons to people outside the immediate family circle would be subject to a background check and online sales of assault weapons would be banned.
*Magazines would be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10. Current owners of higher-capacity magazines would have a year to sell them out of state. If an owner is found to have eight or more bullets in a magazine, he or she could face a misdemeanor charge.
*The proposed measure would require that stolen guns be reported within 24 hours.
*The measure would also enshrine a system through which mental health professionals would be required to report to officials when they believe their patients may harm themselves or others. In such cases, police would be allowed to confiscate any guns owned by a potentially dangerous patient.
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