Romney calls for a change in hearts, not gun laws
July 25th, 2012
05:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney calls for a change in hearts, not gun laws

(CNN) - Mitt Romney on Wednesday reiterated his position that new gun laws are unnecessary in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre that left 12 dead and dozens wounded last week.

"Well this person shouldn't have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already," Romney said in an interview with NBC News. "But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won't."

CNN's Piers Morgan sits down with Mitt and Ann Romney Thursday in London. Watch "Piers Morgan Tonight" at 9 p.m. ET for their interview.


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Police in Colorado say the suspect in last Friday's massacre set off two gas-emitting devices before spraying the theater in Aurora, Colorado, with bullets from an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns that police recovered.

The alleged killer had bought the guns legally at stores in the Denver area over the past two months, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said. More than 6,000 rounds of ammunition were also purchased online, according to the police chief.

The suspect also booby-trapped his Aurora apartment with more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline, a law enforcement official who viewed video showing the apartment's interior has told CNN.

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said Wednesday the candidate was referring to those improvised devices, and not the legally purchased guns, in the NBC News interview.

Romney argued the more "essential" task at hand involves tackling individual mindsets, rather than gun legislation.

"Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people," he said.

The presumptive Republican nominee emphasized that amending laws can only go so far in avoiding tragedies like the one in Aurora, Colorado. "A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law, but the fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening," he said.

He later added: “I don’t know that I’m going be able to find a way to prevent people who want to provide harm from being able to purchase things that can carry out that harm. What I want to do is find the people that represent a danger to America and find them and keep them from having the capacity to use or buy things that can harm or hurt other people.”

The interview on Wednesday took place in London, where Romney starts an overseas trip that takes him to the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday, then to Israel and Poland.

After last week's shooting, the former Massachusetts governor first articulated his position on gun control on Monday, telling CNBC that the challenge is not the laws, but "the people."

"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," he said Monday.

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."

- CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kevin Bohn contributed to this story.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. the REAL TRUTH...

    Jeez, he's for it, he's against it. Do you really want to vote for a man who changes his position on key issues/policies more often than the average person changes their underwear???

    July 25, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. LynneSki

    People that want to change gun laws need to join the NRA, take it over and make the changes from with in.

    July 25, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. greg

    So, let me get this straight. Up until this happened he was a law abiding citizen yet Romney thinks he should not of had any kind of weapon. So who is against the 2nd ammenment now?
    Hypocrite.

    July 25, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  4. Ronda in Houston,TX

    The NRA is in Romney the Puppet Liar's pocket. What else could he say to not upset the flow of money coming in?

    July 25, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    It's like a 7up commercial. Mittens' Positions: The Unpolicy.

    July 25, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. 333maxwell

    I thought it was pretty shrewd of him asking people who do shoot someone, to self deport themselves to jail right after.

    or at the very least, retroactively un-shoot them afterwards.

    July 25, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. California

    Democrats, how about you ban manure and the ever popular "automatic box cutter" or would that be airplanes? Both had many more casulties than this incident.

    July 25, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. FORWARD into the Obama FISCAL ABYSS

    greg – So, let me get this straight. Up until this happened he was a law abiding citizen yet Romney thinks he should not of had any kind of weapon. So who is against the 2nd ammenment now?
    ===============================================================================================
    I believe he was referring to the bombs and booby traps in his apartment. There is no indication that I am aware of that any of the firearms was obtained illegally.

    We need laws against crazy people. Problem is the ACLU fought to set them all free a few decades ago. Even then, this guy would not have been grabbed. A lone wolf whack job is virtually impossible to catch unless they slip up or somebody speaks up after noticing something.

    July 25, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. DanW

    I wonder what Romney's position would have been back when the 10 Commandments were being drafted. "People, we don't need anybody telling us what to do, no matter how powerful they are. We all just need to change our hearts and everything will be fine."

    July 25, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. pn

    How is he supposed to "change the hearts" of people? Have children watch more Barney?

    July 25, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. feedledum

    I think what he's saying is that we need to bring back the sixties. Flower Power!

    July 25, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  12. jatovi

    The gunman obtained the weapons legally not illegally. There is no legitimate reason for anyone to have an assault rifle at home with 6000 rounds of ammunition. A hunter needs one bullet to kill an animal with a rifle if he's good. No one needs 60 bullets shot in one minute. So, change hearts? Really? No, put the assault weapons ban back in place. Work on the gun show loop hole. Curd the amount of ammunition someone is allowed to have. I don't want to live in a society were everyone is packing, everyone is nervously looking to see if they need to shoot anyone, and only one in fifty really have the training or gumption to know how to use a gun.

    July 25, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. drake mallard

    Romney has taken every possible position, on every possible issue, at every possible opportunity.

    Romney: Obama mandated contraception so he might take your guns too

    Romney says Obama will erode the rights of gun owners in speech to NRA

    We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners," Romney told thousands of NRA members in St. Louis for their annual convention. "President Obama has not. I will."

    Running for the Senate in 1994, Romney said: "I don't line up with the NRA." A decade later he became a lifetime NRA member

    July 25, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. ron

    Don't get too worked up over willard's comments. You KNOW he will change his "sketch" if the polls so indicate! LOL

    July 25, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. Chaning the Hearts?

    Romney argued the more "essential" task at hand involves tackling individual mindsets, rather than gun legislation. "Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people," Romney said.

    Really? And just how does he propose to change the hearts of the American people? Is Romney planning to legislate morality and make all Americans part of that Mormon money machine cult he calls a religion? Maybe he's planning to tackle our individual mindsets by mandating magic underwear requirements for all citizens?

    LDS = Lies, Dollars, and Sanctimony

    July 25, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. DanW

    I doubt that a law has ever been passed with the expectation that it would "make all bad things go away." The point of any law is to make things better. Laws define the limits of acceptable behavior with the expectation that most people, believing in an orderly society, will obey those limits. Those that exceed the limits are penalized. Maybe Romney is right and it is better to have 1000 law-abiding citizens own an AR-15 "just in case" rather than to keep such a weapon out of the hands of someone like Holmes who might just use it in a crazy moment. I hope my neighbor doesn't have one...

    July 25, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    NRA blood money is flowing into Romney's campaign coffers.

    July 25, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "or at the very least, retroactively un-shoot them afterwards."

    I lol'd

    July 25, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  19. BeverlyNC

    Romney certainly has had "a change of heart" omn gun laws. As Governor of MA he signed gun control and assualt weapons ban into law. He was pro-choice. He was for Healthcare for All and passed it into law. Romney seems to have had a "change of heart" on every single issue to the opposite viewpoint – a man so desperate no one know what he stands FOR from one day to the next. All he knows to do is just falsely attack President Obama and run TV lies. Romney is no leader. I stand with President Obama – a real leader, a true advocate for We the People, with a proven and outstanding success record in job creation (with total Republican obstruction of all Jobs bills), help for veterans, homeowners defrauded by Wall St, and a great foreign leader who ended the fraud Bush war in Iraq, got the UN to take the lead with the Arab countries in civil war so no American soldier was ever in harm's way, got Osama bin Laden and most of all his Al Qaeda leaders, and kept us safe. He is the President I want and will stand with in November.

    July 25, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. romneycares less

    He's such a coward! He cares for NO ONE except the rich and the EVIL NRA lining his pockets and the rest of the Repugs! SHAMEFUL!

    July 25, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. T'sah From Virginia

    ►California
    Democrats, how about you ban manure and the ever popular "automatic box cutter" or would that be airplanes? Both had many more casulties than this incident.◄

    Maybe they should BAN your BRAIN because either one of what you mentioned carries BULLETS!!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    July 25, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  22. B.

    Be prepared for these murdering events to continue because this country is increasingly ruled by a Gun Culture unseen anywhere else!
    The NRA owns the Republican party and is working to Arm the rest of the country through never ending paranoia and fear.
    Stability and peace is controlled by intelligence and understanding not fear and stupidity.

    The country is evolving into factions of the privileged with gated communities with security and the underprivileged and desperate with very little or no security.This will lead to more extremism with people resorting to increased use of weapons out of fear or getting what they want.

    July 25, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. cali ha ha

    Gun restrictions is the way it should be. We restrict bomb making material. I can't build you rockets with out registering the materials. But u can buy 6000 rounds of ammo online and 100 round drums and that's ok. Even the military uses only 30 round drums for assault rifles.

    July 25, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  24. Mr. Moderate

    Ummmm....Mitt. He was allowed to have everything he owned. It was all legal thanks to your party overturning the assault weapons ban. He was just like any other law abiding gun owner that your party is so anxious to defend until the moment he pulled the trigger in that theater.

    I hope some make a big deal out he complete unawareness of gun laws. Given that he is the ONLY presidential candidate who has signed legislation restricting gun rights, I would think you would have a greater awareness of these issues.

    July 25, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  25. Howard

    It's a shame you liberals don't respect and value the wisdom of our founding fathers, and our constitution ... over the stupidity of radical senators, and a two bit community organizer ... who are about to neuter our 2nd amendment ... and, turn our sovereignty over to the countries who hate us, in the United Nations.

    July 25, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
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