(CNN) – Continuing the debate over gun rights after Friday's Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting, Mitt Romney on Monday argued there was no need for new gun laws and stood by legislation he signed as Massachusetts governor banning assault weapons.
"I still believe that the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don't believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy," Romney said on CNBC.
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He continued: "There are–were, of course, very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado. Our challenge is not the laws, our challenge is people who, obviously, are distracted from reality and do unthinkable, unimaginable, inexplicable things."
The shooting on Friday, which left 12 people dead and 58 wounded, ignited fierce debate over the weekend and placed the presidential candidates in the spotlight over their positions on gun rights.
Romney's remarks against new laws don't stray too far from similar comments from the White House this weekend. Speaking aboard Air Force One as the president flew Sunday to meet with families of those killed, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama did not have plans to push for new legislation in light of the Colorado massacre.
"The president's view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that's his focus right now," Carney said, adding it was too early to determine how the issue would play in the election. Meanwhile, some have pointed to the president's 2008 campaign promise to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a 2004 extension of a ban on assault weapons, at the time saying "These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people."
Also as governor, Romney enacted a statewide "Right to Bear Arms Day," which is held on May 7 to "honor law-abiding citizens and their right to 'use firearms in defense of their families, persons, and property for all lawful purposes, including common defense'," according to his campaign website.
In 2006, ahead of his bid for the 2008 Republican nomination, he became a lifelong member of the NRA.
Asked Monday about the assault weapons ban, Romney said the legislation came as a bipartisan effort from both those who "were for additional gun rights and those that opposed gun rights."
"The idea of one party jamming through something over the objection of the other tends to divide the nation, not make us a more safe and prosperous place," he said. "So if there's common ground, why I'm always willing to have that kind of a conversation."
The two campaigns took a pause this weekend, pulling their attack ads from the air and breaking from the campaign trail to reflect on the shooting.
Monday morning, however, the campaigns largely resumed their activities, as both teams went on the attack through press releases and as the candidates had campaign appearances on their schedules.
Romney said Monday the campaigns were back "under way" but with a different tone.
"Yes. I think we are, but we're starting also with a level of thoughtfulness and seriousness that I think is appropriate in the aftermath of a tragedy of this nature. Obviously, the campaigns are under way," he said. "We're talking about our respective views and at the same time, our hearts are heavy as we think about the funerals that'll be held this week and the families that have been so tragically altered by virtue of the loss of life."
– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
New gun laws won't make a difference? Well. I didn't realize Mitt Romney owned a crystal ball.
flip flop flip flop. Romney hunting give us a break. He looked like an idiot holding that shot gun. Forward 2012
Our challenge is not the laws, our challenge is people who, obviously, are distracted from reality and do unthinkable, unimaginable, inexplicable things.
Mitt Romney is correct. Isn't the problem here the senseless hate and disregard for life shown by the lowlife coward clown-boy rather than the means with which he selected?
What does a city boy like Willard know about guns. Maybe Willard learned about guns from that murderer Brigham Young who massacred non-mornons in Utah. I wonder if their planet kolob has guns.
That isn't what he said while Governor of Massachussets. He was gun control central then. Of course a Mitt Flippity Flop and a flitp and a flop is hardly surprising. He's all over the place.
I believe in an assault weapons ban, and I appreciate has not backed away from his decision to vote for a ban on assault weapons....I will vote for Obama, but I do acknowledge that once in a while Romney acts presidential.
Guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people. And with the right kind of gun they can kill lots of people. The idea that if everyone had a gun that night in Aurora, as the NRA suggests, Mr. Holmes would not have killed so many is absurd. It is time, it is overdue, that we examine the myths put out by the NRA and pass laws that get these killer weapons off the streets. It is too bad that neither of these two major party Presidential candidates have the guts to address this issue.
Romney does not have to suck up to NRA. If the gun laws were strict enough this type of tragedies could have been avoided. Why is everyone afraid of NRA who are only business minded crooks who have no concern for human life. If they did, they would have voluntarily accepted gun control regulations. Why does any one need, other than for fighting a war a gun anyway?
Please Mr.Romney, tell us what kind of tragedy will make you support a change in assault weapon sales?
A very valid point, it seems whenever something extreme happens we tend to respond with unrealistic answers. Why try to make changes that would not make any difference. I could walk down the street with cash and buy 10 guns in less than an hour. Tighter laws wouldn't even slow someone like this down.
Good to know Romney thinks that when something is broken, it does not need fixing.
What a bunch of chixnsheet politicians on both sides. What in the world is a clip on that size useful for other than killing people? And you both KNOW that its availability "wouldn't have made a difference" ...how? Divine revelation?
How about protecting your 2nd amendment rights by reasonable means. However, if you somehow feel that you need a hundred round clip, perhaps you might want to consider that maybe, just maybe, YOU are in the wrong?
Mr.Romney you are a two faced SOB who will say anything to get elected. You lack courage, you lack ethics, you lack morality and you will surely lack the number of votes to become President of the USA.
Go see a play mittens. May I suggest "My American Cousin" at the Ford Theater.
So according to his record, Rmoney is both pro and anti-gun....which MItt is running for President?
He can not be trusted!
Both parties need to step up and get rid of AR's.
Its events like this that make me laugh when I hear the term "socialist" being thrown around about the POTUS when he is unbelieveably moderate. This was a great chance for a far left leader to try and stir debate on gun control and obama left it alone. I say good for him but seriously Glenn, Rush, how about some credit where credit is due? This was not the action of an ultra left wing socialist like you claim he is.
Well Romney, tell us, what type of tragedy would justify a new gun law. Empty words again from Romney. He's all sound bites.
What a load of bs. How does he know it wouldn't make a difference. If he had had to go through multiple checks and a gun course and had access to only a certain kind of gun and only one, I would be willing to wager my right to own guns of any sort that if the tragedy wouldn't have happened, it would have at least been lessened.
The previous post is closed to comments, so I'm using this post to let everyone know this – my grown son lives just North of Denver and he (and others) have confirmed that Romney Did Not pull his negative ads in Colorado. Unless 10 or 15 adults in Denver proper suddenly suffered a group hallucination, which lasted 12 hours..... Romney's Secret Service name should be "Pinocchio". One, for the constant lying, and two, because his actions are sometimes so lifelike that you forget he's not a real boy.
How the hell much more carnage will it take? The NRA is guilty of mass murder.
This argument that "the guy could have used bombs just as easily and killed more people more easily so why ban guns" is just plain stupid. If so, why didn't he? He obviously liked guns, his preferred weapon.
People kill people. Guns let them do it more efficiently. Why should we let these acts of insanity happen. All guns should be banned.
Romney, what an idiot.
Why did you ban assault weapons in Massachuttes while you were governor mr. Flip-flop??????obama12.