Arizona legislators introduce bill to ban sale of large-capacity gun magazines

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 | 1:51 p.m. CST; updated 5:46 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 8, 2011

PHOENIX — A month after a gunman shot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, the southern Arizona city and those whose lives were changed by what happened outside that Tucson grocery store are still reeling from the shock waves that the massacre sent throughout the country.

Tuesday marks one month since the tragedy, but the families of the six people killed in the Jan. 8 shooting remained awash in grief and the 13 survivors are still struggling with their injuries and the emotional scars.

Giffords, who was critically wounded after being shot in the head, has been recovering at a rehabilitation hospital in Houston.

By appearances, Tucson has largely returned to normal, with massive makeshift memorials to the victims dismantled and boxed in locked storage for a future permanent memorial.

Meanwhile, more than 100 miles north in Phoenix, state lawmakers are taking action in the aftermath of the shooting.

Democrat legislators introduced a bill late Monday that would ban the sale of large-capacity gun magazines, like the one used in the Tucson rampage. It faces a difficult road to passage at the Republican-led Legislature, which has a strong record on gun rights.

A second piece of legislation has bipartisan support. It would require educational institutions and public agencies to notify health authorities about terminations, expulsions and suspensions resulting from violence or threatening behavior.

Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old Tucson man charged in the shooting, was booted out of Pima Community College because of behavior that campus police considered disturbing. He was told to get a mental health evaluation or to not return.

Some lawmakers say they're comporting themselves with new restraint and respect amid increased bipartisanship.

"Things have changed," said state House Speaker Kirk Adams, a Mesa Republican who, on the Jan. 10 opening day of the legislative session, said he prayed that the Legislature and society would be more attuned to respect and value.

"The relationships on an individual basis between the majority and the minority are better," Adams said Monday. "We're communicating a lot. We're cooperating on everything that it's possible to cooperate on."

Two Democratic leaders offered somewhat differing assessments.

House Minority Whip Matt Heinz said he was finding Republicans receptive to work on several policy issues in the session's first month.

"I certainly feel a sense of more unity, and it's not so much us versus them," he said.

But Tucson Democrat Rep. Steve Farley, the chief sponsor of the gun-magazine bill, said he thinks that the shooting is now fading for many lawmakers, particularly those from other parts of the state.

"When I come up I-10, it's almost like it never happened," said Farley, referring to the major interstate freeway that links Arizona's capital city with Tucson. "In Tucson, we're still in the middle of it."

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