Parking lot owners would not be able to interfere with people who want to carry and store guns in their vehicles under a bill tentatively approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, sponsor of SB67, told the Senate, "We need to make sure citizens have the ability to protect themselves going to and from work." But he said some employers and owners of commercial parking lots have tried to ban guns in cars in their lots.

"We need to protect the law-abiding citizens who wish to have the ability to protect themselves," he said.

But Sen. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake, complained, "The rights of gun owners should not trump the rights of the property owner."

Madsen, however, said the Constitution protects the right to bear arms. He even entitled his bill, "Protection of Constitutionally Guaranteed Activities in Certain Private Venues." The bill also prohibits any parking lot restrictions on the display of religious articles in parked cars.

The bill allows firearms to be stored in cars in public parking lots as long as the individual storing the gun is legally entitled to possess and transport it; the vehicle is locked or the firearm is in a locked container; and the firearm is not in plain view.

The bill passed 24-3 on second reading, and still faces a final third reading before it is sent to the House for consideration. A similar bill passed the Senate last year, but was not enacted into law.