By The Associated Press

Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has apologized for saying someone in the Aurora, Colo., theater last week should have been armed and prepared to stop the shooter.

Pearce, a Republican from Mesa, said Friday on Facebook the shooting was heartbreaking and that lives were lost because nobody acted to stop the shooting that left 12 people dead and dozens wounded.

His comments drew criticism, and Pearce apologized Monday.

His latest Facebook post says he wrote his original post while concerned about the fate of a young woman who was at the theater and that he's since been moved to learn of what he called "great acts of courage" in the theater.

He says it is far too early for discussion about preventing such attacks.

Pearce, who was recalled from the state Senate last year largely over his anti-immigration politics, made similar comments following the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson.

“Guns save lives," Pearce said in an interview that aired on Arizona Week Jan. 14, 2011. "Had there been an armed citizen there prepared to take action, lives could have been saved.”

He was referring to the shooting outside a Tucson Safeway store in which six people were killed and 13 others wounded, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and current U.S. Rep. Ron Barber.

Pearce is a retired Maricopa County sheriff's chief deputy who was shot and wounded in the line of duty years ago. He is a strong advocate for gun rights.