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New gun bill unveiled at state capitol

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SAINT PAUL, Minn. -

A new piece of legislation is calling for tougher gun penalties while leaving assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips off the table.

That's the latest proposal unveiled at the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday.
 
The new gun legislation has bipartisan support, and has also received the nod from various authorities. But the move is not without criticism..

"We're here today because most Minnesotans want to do what we can to reduce gun violence in Minnesota," said Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center.
 
At Wednesday's press conference legislators outlined the latest proposal aimed at cracking down on gun violence. Hilstrom says it would prohibit felons from possessing ammo, bar people who are committed for mental illness from possessing guns and ammunition, and would improve criminal data sharing.
 
"We believe that this is proposal that can bring people together in Minnesota to do what we can to improve the background system that we currently have," Hilstrom said.
 
Representative Tony Cornish of Good Thunder says the proposed legislation is also geared towards keeping second-amendment rights intact.
 
"We don't want to infringe on anybody's right to have a high-capacity magazine or an assault weapon," said Cornish.
 
Cornish further adds that the legislation would not ban high-capacity ammo clips and assault rifles.
 
"All proposals for magazines and assault weapons have been dropped--the senate's pulled it off the table, there's virtually no chance...to pass," Cornish said.
 
The  proposal has bipartisan support and the National Rifle Association is also on board with this plan, but some critics say it doesn't go far enough.
 
"I think it's a cop out," said Heather Martens, Protect Minnesota executive director. "It's a way to avoid confronting a problem. It's weak, it resorts to jacking up penalties after someone has already committed a crime, which does nothing for prevention."
 
But some authorities say the new bill is the right move.
 
"This is the only bill that protects 2nd-amendment rights, while strengthening background checks done under existing law, ensuring that those legally prohibited from owning or possessing a gun don't have access to guns," said Sheriff Rich Stanek of Hennepin County.

But Martens thinks otherwise.
 
"It does not address the biggest gap that we have in our current background-check system, which is that not all gun sales, in fact only about 60 percent of gun sales require a background check," Martens said.
 
The new bill has over 70 bipartisan co-sponsors and would also make it a felony for an individual to knowingly engage in purchasing a firearm for an ineligible person. The proposal also contains a provision that would require local law enforcement agencies to submit criminal records to a database within 24 hours of collection.