PHOENIX ‑‑ With both sides invoking the memory of the Tucson shootings, the Senate voted 21‑8 Thursday to expand where people can carry their guns.
It would not, however, disturb existing laws about guns on college campuses. But separate legislation proposes to overturn that ban.
Senate President Russell Pearce, R‑Mesa, said the measure simply recognizes that people have a right to defend themselves.
But the move, less than two months after the incident in Tucson, provoked an angry and sometimes tearful reaction by foes, all Democrats.
"Has this body no shame, no compassion, no respect?'' asked Sen. Linda Lopez, D‑Tucson. She said the families of the six who were killed and the 13 injured, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head and is undergoing rehabilitation in Houston, are still recovering.
"I'm personally still working through my grief process as a result of what happened to my closest friend,'' Lopez said.
Sen. Paula Aboud, D‑Tucson, said after 32 were killed in 2007 at Virginia Tech by a lone gunman, lawmakers in that state proposed "pro‑active measures'' about who can have guns and where.
"That has not happened in this state,'' she said. "Instead, the insensibility of this body to disregard the feelings of the citizens of Arizona and to bring this piece of legislation forward is insulting.''
But Sen. Sylvia Allen, R‑Snowflake, said what happened in Tucson is not related to guns.
"The problem is moral,'' she said, saying the country needs a "moral rebirth.'' And she said the man who pulled the trigger was "terribly sick.''
"We could lock up every single gun in the world and it won't heal America,'' Allen said. "America's problem is in her heart because she's rejected strong moral standards, because our families are falling apart, because our families aren't teaching children any more, and our children don't feel loved and they're not instructed.''
Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D‑Tempe, agreed with her argument about where the blame lies ‑‑ up to a point. He said the shooter is responsible for the first 10 bullets.
"The other 21 are the fault of the United States Congress,'' he said, referring to the decision by federal lawmakers in 2004 not to renew a 10‑year‑old ban on the manufacture and importation of high‑capacity magazines for guns.
Pearce said SB 1201 ensures that those who already obey the law can protect themselves and others.
"If somebody had been in Tucson prepared, mentally, and equipped to defend lives, lives could have and would have been saved, in my opinion,'' he said. And Pearce said there is a constitutional right of self defense.
"Yet we believe it's OK to create no‑defense zones,'' he said, where the only people who pay attention to the signs banning guns in public buildings are those who obey the law in the first place.