Romney: New gun laws won't make a difference 'in this type of tragedy'
July 23rd, 2012
08:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Romney: New gun laws won't make a difference 'in this type of tragedy'

(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.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (188 Responses)
  1. CNNguest001

    People of the United States: Romney won't make a difference 'in making America a better country'. It'll actually get "much worse than 2006-2009".

    July 24, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  2. pflatman

    Gun-owners, by and large, are responsible citizens. However, how many of them (besides Nutcase Nugent and this Holmes freak) really want or need assault weapons? Restrict or ban the sale of these things.

    July 24, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  3. CNNguest001

    Romney: Like literally everything else "I was very much FOR it before I was kind of against it".

    July 24, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  4. nolimits3333

    Mitt Romney is the most amoral person I have ever seen.

    He has no conscience whatsoever.

    July 24, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  5. Greenspam

    Today Rmoney said no gun laws can stop a psycho from buying guns and so there is no point of having more gun laws.

    July 24, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  6. taffd

    And once again the GOP holds tight to it's metal penis

    July 24, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  7. r

    When it happens to our own family, we will know that pain, otherwise we don't!!

    July 24, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  8. Larry L

    If this "chicken-hawk" were to have enlisted in the military and served his country we might have taught him about guns. His pampered children are safe from most gun violence and his ideal world is not traumatized by mass murder. He is afraid of the N.R.A. radicals and will double-speak this issue as he does all tough problems. Spoiled preppy.

    July 24, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  9. Lenny Pincus

    So Mitt was for gun control until he was against it. Oh yeah, he made 25 million from foreign investments while he was governor of MA and running for presidency. Flip flopping aside, just a bit untoward?

    July 24, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  10. The_Mick

    A ban on rapid-fire military-style weapons would have affected this tragedy. For one thing the penetration of the wall and resulting permanent bullet in the jaw of a movie goer in an adjoining theater would have been prevented if he didn't have an AK 27 rifle (higher penetration than the 47) and which he never stopped to reload.

    July 24, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. Republicangrandma

    He scares with NRA! That's just plain and simple.

    July 24, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  12. GR534

    I don't own an "assault rifle", I'm not a member of the NRA and I don't run around spouting off about my "2nd amendment rights". I don't have to. I'm wise enough to know the difference between taking a stand based on common sense and politicizing my lifestyle. Guns kill, and no doubt some of them are designed to inflict mass casualties in a short amount of time. But so do explosive devices, chemicals, planes, trains, automobiles, and the list goes on. Banning certain types of firearms and/or enacting more legislation aimed at restricting access to firearms will have little effect on reducing the vast, inconceivable numbers of guns already in circulation. This is an indefatigable fact. Add to this the indisputable truth that the police cannot provide round the clock intervention and it becomes evident that, for now at least, the right to legally own and carry a gun is of paramount import to one's self-preservation..

    July 24, 2012 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  13. Aluzba

    Indignation *

    July 24, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  14. Thomas

    Maybe a better mental health care system would !

    Romney is weak , so ideas , no solutions.

    Keep thing he same and make more profit .

    July 24, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  15. J.V.Hodgson

    Taken in context what Obama said is true and they are not gaffes. Not a single business ( big or small) operates without the internet, not a single business operates without our national transport infrastructure, longer term the energy reesources they use will become important and must be cost effective. It isnt small business that needs to do invest in infrastrucrue future energy resources new research.
    All the latter partly falls big business but mostly and rightly on government funded activity and research.
    The old line of" we are all born equal it just that some of us are more equal than others" is only true in the sense of of our educational ability achievement, i.e grads do better than high school guys gals... but even here exceptions just prove the general rule. A good education means you are more likely to spot a small busines opportunity. Having been in that category I find what Obama says very accurate and Romneys " hard work " patronising. Bain was not succesfull because he was uneducated or not working hard all the time including 1999-2002 at both the Olympics and Bain. Then you get to the real reason why he does not release his tax returns is because he uses LEGAL Tax Avoidance devices unavailable to 97% of all Americans, and what he proposes tax wise will make his fortune more secure and much bigger. The point unfortunately is that some of his income or capital growth is not even being taxed at 15% and its legal.

    July 24, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  16. Jr.

    The government need too be notified by sports stores ammo store when anyone buy more ammo needed to kill a deer or turkey. During hunting season. Especially none hunting season. And internet buyers can only buy so much a year. Especially assalt ammo need a special permit...... Come on America we can make it harder far those sickoo out there

    July 24, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  17. Blah Blah

    So says the funded candidate of the NRA : (

    July 24, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  18. Sam Salma

    Sure Governor.
    I guess you got it from NRA's talking point memo this morning.

    July 24, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  19. Jr.

    I wonder has anybody talk with the ammo dealer that sold the shooter the ammo and are they going to change how they do business over internet from now on. Go cover story CNN put someone on it thank you!!

    July 24, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  20. anonymoussource

    This guy is a lot classier than I gave him credit for.

    July 24, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  21. George

    Romney said: "There are–were, of course, very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado." But the police chief has stated the killer bought all of these weapons legally.
    How can a law that allpows a person to buy an assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine be considered a 'stringent law'.
    The idea that you can't erode one iota the right for Americans to buy theseassault weapons or else there will be no 2nd Amendment at all is losing its credibility.
    It's time for thoughtful debate on the issue. CNN and other news sites on the internet give us all a public forum for discourse that is unprecendented in history. There are many visitors to these sites who obviously have no idea how precious this is and litter the page with nonsense and thereby slow down the pace of discussion and repel those who have much to contribute in this public sphere. Let's make an effort to respect our space and talk rationally and reasonably about this very important issue.

    July 24, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  22. hmmm

    I disagree, I think that gun laws can make a tremendous difference. Sweden for instance has very tight gun laws and they don't seem to have had any such problems.

    July 24, 2012 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  23. Mike

    Anybody care to explain the "very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado" that Mitt is talking about? Perhaps "The State of Colorado prohibits gun registration. CRS 29-11.7-102" or "Colorado allows a person to carry a firearm in a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, if its use is for lawful protection of such person or another's person or property. [C.R.S. 18-12-105(2)] Colorado law also allows a person to possess a handgun in a dwelling, place of business, or automobile. However, you cannot carry the weapon concealed on or about your person while transporting it into your home, business, hotel room, etc. Local jurisdictions may not enact laws that restrict a person's ability to travel with a weapon. [C.R.S. 18-12-105.6] ".

    Romney signed a bill banning assault rifles (such as the AR-15) as governor of Massachusetts but doesn't see the need for such a ban now that he's running for President. Why the flip-flop (or flop-flip)?

    July 24, 2012 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  24. Orwell sees it, again & again

    Americans won't feel safe until we can own a personal nuke, to protect ourselves from crazy neighbors , ditto heads, and Rush Lambaugh.

    July 24, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  25. Herby Sagues

    I'm open to the debate over whether it is worth to accept tragedies like these in exchange for the right to bear arms. But saying that stricter gun laws won't make a difference is an outright lie. It would. It would almost eliminate these events. None of these shootings could have occurred if stricter gun laws were in place. In almost no other part of the world there's so much freedom to buy and carry arms as in the US, and in almost no other place in the world these things (I'm specifically talking about deranged individuals randomly massacring random civilians for no specific purpose) happen even nearly as frequently. US has about 10X the frequency of incidents other parts of the world have on a per-capita basis.
    You may say that the right to bear arms has enough advantages to compensate for these tragedies (though I have never seen one of these avoided or stopped by a civilian with a gun, so as a control method guns seem massively inefficient) or that they are an inalienable right regardless of their downside, but saying they wouldn't make a difference is a lie. Or do they really believe that this guy could have killed and wounded the same number of people with a hammer?

    July 24, 2012 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
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