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Westchester lawmakers call for tougher gun laws

Larry Verdi, 60, of Sleepy Hollow, holds a

Larry Verdi, 60, of Sleepy Hollow, holds a 45 STI pistol at the Coyne Park Range in Yonkers. (Oct. 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Elizabeth Daza

Westchester lawmakers are asking Congress to enact tougher gun-control measures.

The Westchester County Board of Legislators unanimously approved a resolution Monday night, calling on federal officials to curb violence in the wake of the December massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children dead.

Support for the resolution cut across party lines.

During Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama is expected to make an impassioned plea for stricter laws, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

First lady Michelle Obama will sit with the parents of a Chicago teenager shot and killed just days after she performed at the president's inauguration. Twenty-two House members have invited people affected by gun violence, according to Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) who helped with the effort. And Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas says he's invited rocker Ted Nugent, a longtime gun control opponent who last year said he would end up "dead or in jail" if Obama won re-election.

The Westchester resolution was drafted by Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah) and Minority Leader Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle) before receiving approval in the Legislation Committee, chaired by Legis. Bill Ryan (D-White Plains).

"As elected officials, we have a responsibility to protect our communities by making sure that irresponsible gun dealers and those involved with illegal guns are brought to justice," said Ryan.

The resolution calls for mandated universal background checks on all gun sales and the elimination of restrictions barring local law officers from accessing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives database.

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