State lawmakers hear testimony on open carry bills

State senators in Austin heard comments Thursday on the controversial issue of openly carrying handguns.

Two proposals will be heard in committee and are considered the most likely to pass this season. One would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry concealed on public college campuses.

The other would allow open carry, but only by people who already have a concealed handgun permit.

More than 50 witnesses registered to testify at a senate hearing before the doors even opened this morning.

One of them was Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson, who's familiar with the issue of open carry having dealt with the group Open Carry Tarrant County.

The group made headlines by carrying long guns over their shoulders in the streets of Arlington.

Johnson lobbied for strict penalties for open carriers interfering with officer's investigations.

"The most disturbing activity that we have experienced firsthand is groups of armed individuals monitoring police radio traffic and showing up at police traffic stops, only to interfere with police officers ability to perform their official duties," Johnson said.

A confrontation in the first month of the legislative session between gun rights activists and a lawmaker has already led to the installation of new panic buttons in legislative offices.

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