Citing concerns over threats of violence, a group that advocates for stricter firearm laws has retained a security guard to protect members planning to testify at the Texas Capitol on Thursday during a hearing on bills that would loosen the state's restrictions on handguns.
An unarmed, off-duty police officer will accompany representatives of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Claire Larson, the president of the group's Texas chapter, confirmed Wednesday night.
The group has received "death threats, threats of sexual violence, threats against our children," Larson said, and judged Thursday's hearing to be a circumstance in which extra security was needed.
"We just wanted somebody whose only job is to be looking out for us," Larson said. "We don’t have panic buttons in the halls of the Capitol."
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In the first month of the legislative session, the behavior of some gun rights activists led to the installation of new panic buttons in legislative offices. One Democratic lawmaker now has a security detail after receiving death threats following his decision to kick a group of open carry advocates out of his office. The advocates grew increasingly hostile when they learned he did not support their cause.
Witnesses from all sides of the fight over gun laws will testify at the Senate State Affairs hearing, where lawmakers are set to consider bills that would let permit-holders carry holstered handguns openly — "open carry" — and allow concealed handguns to be carried on university campuses — "campus carry."