ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota gun owners may no longer need a permit to carry in public as Republican lawmakers seek to loosen state gun laws.

A House bill eliminating the state's permit-to-carry law was one of a pair of bills that drew hundreds of proponents and opponents to the Capitol Wednesday. A second bill would create a so-called "stand your ground" law granting broader immunity to shooters acting in self-defense.

Lawmakers were split by party as testifiers from both sides packed a House hearing and an overflow room.

Rep. Jim Nash says he authored the bills to strengthen the state's Second Amendment rights. The Waconia Republican says his bills would still ban felons and people in the criminal gang database from getting guns as the state's current law does.