PHOENIX - The Arizona Senate on Thursday approved a bill to prohibit state agencies and local governments from banning guns in most public buildings without airport-style security, as critics denounced the legislation as shameful in the wake the Jan. 8 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson.
The Senate's 21-8 vote along party lines sent the Republican-sponsored bill to the House.
Supporters of the bill said banning weapons from buildings without security screening disarms law-abiding people who could use their guns to defend themselves and others.
As several lawmakers invoked the assassination attempt that left Giffords critically wounded in the head, opponents said allowing guns in public facilities lacks common sense.
Giffords, a former state legislator, was among 19 people wounded -- six fatally -- while attending a congressional meet-and-greet at a shopping center.
"Has this body no shame, no compassion, no respect?" said Sen. Linda Lopez, her voice quivering as she began her remarks during the vote.
The Tucson Democrat said many in her city "are still dealing with this loss and tragedy."
The gun-rights bill "could have waited" until next year, she said.
Anther Tucson Democrat, Sen. Paula Aboud, said the bill reflected "a huge disconnect" between the public and the Legislature.
"There is no sense of decency. This is shaming," Aboud said.
"This is shaming on us. One more black eye on a Legislature when we need to show decency, compassion and understanding."
Republican supporters supported it, rejecting the idea that it isn't prudent and any notion that the Tucson shooting should have caused it to be set aside.
The problem in Tucson wasn't the gun, said Republican Sylvia Allen of Snowflake.
Rather, it the fault of a "sick individual" and moral decay of the nation, Allen said. "What this country needs is a moral rebirth. That young man was terribly sick. We can lock up every single gun and it won't heal America."
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, faces federal charges stemming from the Tucson shooting. He awaits trial.
Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said he was disappointed by opposition to the bill, saying it reflect a lack of respect for freedom.
"The Constitution is not just there for bad guys," Pearce said.
Pearce, who spoke after the bill's opponents cited the Tucson shooting, also said "lives would have been saved" if a person with a gun and ready to use had been in position to intervene after the shooting started.
The Arizona Senate has approved a bill to prohibit state agencies and local governments from banning guns in most public buildings without airport-style security.
The Senate's 21-8 vote Thursday sends the bill to the House.
Supporters said banning weapons from buildings without security screening disarms law-abiding people who could use their guns to defend themselves and others.
Opponents said allowing guns in public facilities lacks common sense, and several invoked the Tucson shooting and others.
The bill exempts schools, universities, courts, police facilities and prosecutors' officers from public buildings where gun owners would be allowed to carry weapons.
Otherwise, the bill would allow bans for only public buildings with metal detectors, armed guards or police officers, and lockboxes for securing gun owners' weapons.
The Arizona Legislature has a record of supporting gun rights. Measures approved recently include laws allowing guns in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and making Arizona the third state to allow carrying a concealed weapons without a permit.
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