(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.
What else can he say? He's a Republican.
So let's offer no solutions. If I text and drive I get a ticket. If I buy 6000 rounds online, its free speech.
Of course new laws would have no effect. That's what the NRA told me to tell you.
Romney is soft on crimes like murder.
No new gun laws, says Romney! Here we go pandering to the NRA and the powerful gun lobby. The 2nd. Amendment guarantees the Right to Bear Arms but it does not stipulate that these have to be automatic weapons capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute and armour-piercing capability. Limit gun ownership to non-automatic weapons and limit the sale of bullets and still satisfy the 2nd. Amendment. Then, pass laws that punishes severely those who commit crimes with guns. Please America, wake up to the elephant in the room that will surely one day destroy your society.
The gun lobby thinks law should be made only when criminals agree to follow them, if they are going to break them the laws are stupid.
Mitt Romney is correct in his description of assault weapons...no one needs one. How anyone could mow down their fellow man is beyond wrong and I hope his family takes some of the responsibility.
No new laws are regulations are needed. Just ban midnight movie premiers and don't hunt with Dick Cheny.
Arguments that Don't Square: The Incongruent Cases for Gun Rights and Voter ID Laws. My thoughts here: http://bit.ly/NU3oIp
Mitten's got his lipstick out!
Statistics to back up your assertions, Mitty? Didn't think so...
You're a coward, Mr. Romney.
Won't make a difference! Why bother?
This just in former governor mitt Romney
loses bid for president of the united states
last seen running away crying.no matter what former governor mitt says the gigs up
former governor the bull dozer teams are going to flattened your false stance on everything thing you talking about former
governor you should have just bowed out
but you learned the BIG HAMMERS are going too bring a crushing pounding to your false counter talks
Romney the clown ,go to somila where you share the same values and have no gun laws or nra lobbyist lining your pockets ,where are your tax returns,you could be a drug dealer or probably looted pension funds or stole it .
The driver of the Gop train wreck in Nov .is in this picture .a vote for romney is a vote for BACHMANN ,no thanks!!!
As someone who lives in Australia and almost 100 times less likely to be shot tonight.
Good luck America. Your nation is full of morons. The fact this guy is a presidential nominee should embarrass you a lot.
I believe most of the politicos; with the exception of some of the cable types; handled this terrible event in a very sober and respectful fashion. I expected much more of the typical knee jerk, opportunistic, Brian Ross type behavior. Shame on me for my cynicism. My own child was only a short distance away at a different midnight showing. The fear and the shock of what happened are still setting in. We are ALL united with peace and love in our hearts for the victims and their families.
Nothing can be done Mitt. All hope is futile. What a leader.
Mitt(I have nothing to offer)McCain is owned by the NRA and the rest of corporate America. They will finish off the middle class,seniors and the unhinged GOBP's new food stamp recipients.
From the man that while governor of MA increased hunter fees at least four times.
He was against guns and now he is for them, or is he?
Frankly, who cares what this guy who will be gone forever after November (I hope) says or does.
of course. when obama signs the un small arms treaty, no laws in this counrtry about guns will matter. if romney were president he would do the exact same.
Hate to say it but I agree with Romney. We overreact after every single tragedy. YEA LETS REMOVE violence from movies because there was a shooting! Let's make gun laws tougher!!! Sorry but these sicked twisted people will kill regardless of laws. Stop it.
He has my vote, STOP illegal immigration, leave gun laws alone,create more jobs. Not much to ask for I think
New law are to minimize access to buy guns. Going to do a difference in this type of tragedy. What Romney is telling...Completely wrong.