New York: Gun debate shows upstate-downstate rift

Bills that would require renewals of handgun permits and a system to tag and track spent shell casings have touched off the first gun-control battle in years at New York's Capitol this week.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly approved both measures. And they face a better chance at becoming law now that the Senate also is controlled by Democrats.

In the Capitol, students rallying in support of the measures Wednesday were mostly minorities from the New York City area. Many of the opponents lobbying lawmakers were middle-aged white men from upstate and wore National Rifle Association caps.

At issue are two proposals. One would require New York handgun licenses _ which currently are issued for a lifetime _ to be renewed every five years. The second would require semiautomatic handguns sold or made in New York state to be configured to "microstamp" identifying information on shell casings.