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State Committee Approves Open Carry Of Handguns

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A customer looks over a .45-caliber pistol in suburban Chicago on July 12, 2010. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A customer looks over a .45-caliber pistol in suburban Chicago on July 12, 2010. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety wants to take the concealed part out of concealed handgun licenses.

The committee voted 5-3 in favor of a bill that would remove the word concealed from the law that allows Texans to have a handgun license. The so-called “open carry” law would allow license holders to carry their weapons in plain view wherever they would be allowed to carry a concealed handgun. The rules for getting a license would not change.

Texarkana state Rep. George Lavender authored the bill that was approved Wednesday. In a committee hearing last week, advocates said the law would deter crime. Opponents warned it would create a dangerous and intimidating climate in densely populated cities.

Hurst Mayor Richard Ward doesn’t think the law is needed. “If people see you carrying a weapon it might incite them to create a ruckus just to show ‘Boy, what a big guy I am’,” he said. “I’m just concerned that it might create more of a problem than it would help.”

Mayor Ward said one of the reasons he’s against the bill is that he thinks it could make things more dangerous. “If you wanted to rob somebody you could kinda come up behind them, or even to the side of ‘em, grab their weapon, hold them at bay, or rob them, where if they didn’t know whether you had one or not… [the criminal might think] ‘If I try to rob this guy he may have a gun under his coat’.”

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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