(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.
Amazing,... the stranglehold the NRA has on all of our politicians! No one has the balls to speak out for the right thing to do. And paranoia seems to rule the situation.....
It literally stuns me to see common sense coming from both candidates.
I live in Texas where there are rattlesnakes, and I own guns. (And with all the crazy teabaggers down here, you never know.) But if the nutcase in Colorado had only gotten access to a butter knife, instead of legally obtained assault weapons and ammo over the internet, he would never have been able to kill 12 people and injure over 50. That fact is self-evident.
The likes of the New Jersey Fat Man and Romney pandering to the "I have a right to every kind of weapon, including a hydrogen bomb" crowd is not evidence of anything but the fact that they are owned by the NRA. It certainly doesn't prove that its fine for everybody to own a machine gun.
This is why this man will be the next President of the United States, he is smart and knows more stupid GUN Laws will have no affect on what this Moron did in Colorado. Maybe we should be looking at the Gun Stores who sell to retards. A Gun Club rejected him just for being wierd on his answering machine, WOW what intuition!!!
If our elected officials would take the power of the NRA away from them, then maybe something could get done. Assault weapons were not in existence when the 2nd amendment was written. Not a good argument. Perhaps when and if Romeny's family was affected, he would flip flop back to his view when he was in MA.
MITT we do need common sense legislation. I own a few guns and I see no need for a magazine that carries so many rounds. If he had to reload, perhaps a few people could have jumped on him and ended the massacre. Secondly, there needs to be some common sense legislation with internet purchases. Why was he able to order 6,000 rounds, and no red flag went up anywhere. So as governor you signed an extension to the assult weapon ban, now you are against it? You are flipping more than the pages of a cheap novel.
He is right about new laws not making a difference. Holmes had never had a run in with the police. He did not have a criminal record or any complaints filed against him. He was in an advanced degree program going for a PHD. This is interesting also, he was enrolled in an neuroscience program and none of his associates recognized any problems that would raise any alarms. He was the type of person that would have been allowed to have a weapon.
The worse mass murder in the U.S. was the fire bombing of a night club that killed agout 80 people. The only thing out of this would be the number of rounds in his possession, should of have been restricted somehow.
Lying again, Mittens. Even if we kept civilian ownership of military grade weapons legal, that 100-round drum mag was banned until 2004. How many lives would have been saved if that kid whom I will not name had to stop to reload after 10 rounds?
Wow he does know how to pander for every single vote. Talk about GOP desperation. Way to milk a tragedy there Willard.
Lying again, Mittens. Even if we kept civilian ownership of military-grade weapons legal, that 100-round drum magazine was banned until 2004. How many lives would have been saved if that kid whom I will not name had to stop to reload after 10 rounds?
I really do dislike Romney, but I tend to agree with him on this one. There are to many guns in our country to ever get them off the street, so phycos will always be able to arm themselves if desired.
I wonder if he would have felt the same way if members of his immediate family were killed in Aurora, Colorado. Why does anyone need to own a AK-47 weapon? We need strict gun control laws. These politicians have no guts because they have been bought and paid for by the NRA.
Gun control that is enforced and regulated in the right way, would work in this type of tragedy, this guy had grenades that he actually bought legally. Republicans will do what ever they can to protect the minority (rich, NRA, themselves) at the risk of loosing the majority. After all “we the people” do not matter to them when it comes to policy.