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NY lawmakers close on stricter gun control

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. (July 26, 2012)

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. (July 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

ALBANY -- As gun-control negotiations continue in Albany, ideas being considered include requiring individuals who own assault weapons to register them and barring such guns from being resold within the state, according to the State Senate's co-leader.

Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) said an agreement to tighten the state's ban on assault weapons, lower the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines and stiffen penalties for illegally possessing guns could be in place by early this week. Mental health professionals could be required to report gun owners who posed risks, he added.

"Certainly, you have the right to have a gun; you can't own any gun and you can't do anything you want with a gun," Klein said Friday on an Albany radio show.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said the state's gun controls -- already some of the strictest in the nation -- must be toughened to prohibit people from transforming legal guns into military-style assault weapons by adding high-powered accessories.

"Gun violence has been on a rampage . . . in one word, it's enough, it has been enough," he said in Wednesday's State of the State address.

Legislative leaders have said the Assembly and Senate are close to an agreement. The Democratic-controlled Assembly favors tougher restrictions on assault weapons and a reduction in the number of bullets in magazines, while the Republican-led Senate is seeking more severe penalties for illegal guns. Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) has said Republicans also favor "limiting high-capacity firearm magazines."

Skelos shares the title of co-leader of the State Senate with Klein.

"I think the first step is that we have to define what an assault weapon is," Klein said. "I don't think we're going to confiscate anybody's gun, but I don't think it's too much to ask if you have an assault weapon that you're required to register it."

Meanwhile, the leader of the state Conservative Party argued Friday for stationing armed guards in schools and enacting tougher penalties for illegal guns and life sentences or the death penalty for murders.

Conservative Chairman Michael Long said, though the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., was "heartbreaking" and "horrific," New York should focus on preventing tragedies such as the Christmas Eve ambush of the two first responders to a house fire in upstate Webster.

"I understand the willingness of everybody wanting to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again, by coming down on the side of restricting guns in some way, [but that] isn't going to stop someone from using a gun illegally again in the future and killing somebody or individuals or a number of people," Long said.

He said he would wait to see a gun control bill before deciding whether to endorse a legislator who voted for the curbs.

With Yancey Roy

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