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After Newtown shooting, New York to pass toughest gun controls in the US

The new New York gun-control laws would tighten the restrictions on ownership of assault rifles. Ammunition magazines would be restricted to seven bullets. The proposed law also increases sentences for gun-related crimes.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, , in Albany, N.Y., announces an agreement with legislative leaders to pass new gun control laws in the state. Also pictured are Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, left, and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

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New York lawmakers agreed to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling for a tougher assault weapons ban and provisions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats.

"This is a scourge on society," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday night, six days after making gun control a centerpiece of his progressive agenda in his State of the State address. The bipartisan effort was fueled by the Newton tragedy that took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. "At what point do you say, 'No more innocent loss of life'?"

The measure also calls for restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns. It is expected to pass Tuesday.

"This is not about taking anyone's rights away," said Sen. Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat. "It's about a safe society ... today we are setting the mark for the rest of the county to do what's right."

Under current state law, assault weapons are defined by having two "military rifle" features. The proposal would reduce that to one feature and include the popular pistol grip.

Private sales of assault weapons to someone other than an immediate family would be subject to a background check through a dealer. Also Internet sales of assault weapons would be banned, and failing to safely store a weapon could be subject to a misdemeanor charge.

Ammunition magazines would be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10, and current owners of higher-capacity magazines would have a year to sell them out of state. An owner caught at home with eight or more bullets in a magazine could face a misdemeanor charge.

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