Romney calls for a change in hearts, not gun laws
July 25th, 2012
05:30 PM ET
11 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. Joey

    The NRA has Mr. Romney in their back pocket for sure, Your fooling yourself if you think he's interested in defending your rights, he's the kind of guy who only seems to care about himself and where he is at the end of it all. I think that Mr. Obama is right in saying that the system needs to be better, we need to see a more intergrated, national gun database, where the gun must be scanned into the persons profile in order to be bought. Guns need to be regulated, assault weapons need to either be out-right barred or made useless.

    Guns are a major part of the American identity and heritage, but that doesn't change the fact that they're weapons that can kill, assault weapons aren't meant to protect yourself, they're meant for invasion, firing rapidly at mutliple targets with equally dangerous weapons.

    July 26, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  2. Joan

    No-one is saying that law abiding citizens should not be able to have guns for hunting, recreation and personal protection. The second amendment covers all that so members of the NRA should not fear losing their guns and rights. However, there must be some way for the people who sell the guns and amunition to be able to red flag when unreasonable requests are made by private citizens. No single person needs assault weapons and 6000 rounds of amunition to shoot ducks, targets or to protect their own property or life. There must be some way to set up red flags for suspicious and unreasonable requests that could be relayed to law enforcement agencies to check out. Also, this might then lead to checking out those persons recent activities and mental stability. The NRA in conjunction with governors, law enforcement and law makers could be a huge help in curbing these situations. It is worth a try. Obviously millions of law abiding NRA members are probably appalled and horrified by any mass shooting and would want to curb it if possible. Would you want someone living across the street from you having a stash of war weapons and ammunition?

    July 26, 2012 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  3. UDidntBuildThat

    Well that did not take long for Obama to politicize. Fr a logically stand point, changing gun laws will not fix this problem. Ok say he did not have the Ak-47. He had enough hand guns to do the same damage. He was insane! He had them illegally!!!! Do u get it? We have gun laws and he violated them!!!
    Chicago & NY have the strictest gun laws in the country. It is not working. The streets of Chicago are under seize by gun violence. The gang members have the guns illegally. Guns like AK47. So the solution is not have more laws. 2nd Amend. was not just about defending oneself, it was also about defending against tyranny fr the govt!

    If u disarm the good then only the bad will be armed!!

    July 26, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  4. richard

    Once again Romney lies and hides from his own record. He passed an assault rifle ban in Massachusetts in 1994. Romney is a weasel and unfit to be President.

    July 26, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  5. Arkansas

    Everyone has the right to bear arms, but the problem/concern is what kind of arms........If someone harms you or your family, are you going to take out an AK-47 and shoot he/she 20 times????? Having a firearm to protect yourself is totally different than having an arson of weapons to go to war........... My thoughts

    July 26, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  6. Bob B

    I'm a Dem that likes to shoot targets. I have guns that shoot small .17 HMR to .308 Win and am a legal owner of all of them. I like what Romney said about guns in this article and think he is right. He just got my vote, because I don't like what Obama has done or should I say, what he's not done in the last almost four years. I don't think the country can take another 4 years of this. I think Obama is reacting with emotion on this issue and don't want a president that acts on emotion, I want one that thinks before they act.

    July 26, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  7. bama jam

    how about we have ammunition control. you can still hurt people with ammunition without the gun that should be what we talk about controlling

    July 26, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  8. zaggs

    With one of the strictest gun control laws in the country, Washington DC always had a high homicide rate. Same thing with Chicago. Heck in Chicago they brag about how strict it is, yet their gun murder rate has gone up.

    July 26, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  9. Damien

    Guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people.

    July 26, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  10. Ashaki

    Why would anyone vote for someone who can't cogently convey a message that makes sense to both sides regardless of politics. He can't even run a campaign. How can he run a country?

    July 26, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Like a typical salesman, Mitt Romney just says patronizing things because they sound good. For example, he noted that Colorado suspect was using "illegal" guns. Yet at the same time he stated that he felt there was no need to change gun laws. What is wrong with those statements you ask?

    By stating that the weapons that were used were "illegal" he is trying to appeal to the assault weapons ban crowd. by stating that we don't need to change our gun laws, he is trying to appease the 2nd Amendment crowd. Both statements that he made are factually inaccurate.

    The weapons are legally purchased and the suspect was the legal owner, which is contrary to Romney's statement that the weapons were "illegal." We do need to strengthen our gun laws, but not in a rush or a panic. If the NRA had their way, there would no gun laws at all. There is no justifiable excuse for average citizens to own and carry concealed weapons of war. None.

    July 26, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    According to Robmey's flawed rationale, we should have NO laws as no law is going to fix a problem 100%.
    This man is a bona fide liar and a sellout who due to the many, many private interests pulling his strings is sadly incapable of formulating or giving voice to a reasonable response.
    Pitiful really.
    Obama 2012. Seriously America.

    July 26, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  13. Joe

    Romney keeps flip flopping his views. As Governor, he was a strong supporter of gun control and bans on assault weapons. Also stating that he doesn't line up with the NRA. Now, he's a member? Now, he switches 360 degrees like he has done on quite a few things. Tough to understand what he's about and supports. Makes it sound like he just says anything for the moment but turnsaround later to fulfill that moment.

    July 26, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Peikovianyi

    "You didn't build and AK-47 by yourself. You had help. Individuals don't build the AK-47, businesses build the AK-47. Therefore we should abolish all corporations and sleep in the park." – President B. Hussein Obama, PBUH

    July 26, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  15. Joe

    I watch Romney's interview w/ Brian Williams and the way he answered questions about solutions for the gun problem in this country was like beating around the bush. No direct answers. He really didn't have any care in light of the tragic loss of life lately due to guns. Seemed like no compassion for the victims. Don't know about him

    July 26, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  16. SCOTO

    Wow. A "change in hearts" . Thats a really radical idea. Gotta work right? It struck me as exactly the kind of comment that Republican's would expect from Obama.

    July 26, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. Mel

    I am totally for the right to bear arms, however I will never be a member of the NRA. The NRA backs the rights to own fully automatic weapons. There is absolutely no reason a regular citizen should have a fully automatic weapon. PERIOD. It's just commen sense really.

    July 26, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  18. Philojazz

    What an absolutely inane response. Nothing there but pandering to the gun-lovers.

    July 26, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  19. uhoh

    And maybe if we wish really hard on the 3rd start to the right....

    July 26, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  20. v_mag

    We have laws against murder, but people murder anyway. So, by Mittler's logic, we should just repeal laws against murder. They don't do any good. Just rely on the murderer to have a change of heart.

    July 26, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Jose

    Well there you have it folks! Romney says we need to "change hearts" not "gun laws". Translation: "I will say anything I need to say in order to become president, whether I believe in it or not, because I have no spine, no moral compass and am interested only in my own personal objectives above all else, even above slaughtered innocent children. If I say the truth (which I know is common sense), that certain weaponry and ammunition should be made illegal and will no doubt keep our society safer, even if not 100% safer, the NRA would turn against me and destroy my chances of being elected." Mitt Romney is dispicable and anyone (in the 99%) who would vote for him needs to have their head examined for brainwashitis.

    July 26, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. anagram_kid

    "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.”

    And how exactly is going to 'find' those people? That just sounds creepy..

    July 26, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  23. WasabiPotPie

    If we ban all the gun how will we defend ourselves when the zombie apocalypse starts?

    July 26, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  24. Kenneth

    "IF" a change in heart were that simple we wouldn't be in this financial mess, the 1% would not have issue with sacrificing to improve our economy, lobbyists would be out of work, racism would not have been an ongoing issue for the past 100+ years, there would not be idiots like the Aurora murderer, we would not need amendments to the constitution, we wouldn't have to "re-district" areas for political gain, sports figures wouldn't be making absurd salaries to play a game that they claim to love, people wouldn't be so quick to pass judgement about things they don't have full knowledge about, Sarah Palin Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman would have NEVER been seriously considered as candidates for public office, "Reality" TV would actual represent REALITY, Oil and gas companies would not be bragging about record profits when the cost of gas is the highest ever, and most if not all employed persons would be compensated with a livable wage. I REALLY "hope" that "change" of heart thing works for you Mitt.

    July 26, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. bluetandclover

    Boo! It's unbelievable how politics gets in the way of good judgment. What will it take for Romney and other NRA-loyal (or NRA-fearing) politicians to take a stand and do the right thing? How many more innocent Americans have to be terrorized or killed by guns before we can have laws that protect us?

    July 26, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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