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. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    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.
    Thanks! I needed that laugh! Good one.

    July 25, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  2. California Gary

    I wouldn't think anyone could find humor in this situation, but dang 333maxwell.......that's the funniest posting I've ever read in here.......can't stop laughing!

    July 25, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. NameAdam Baig SR

    Romney became a lifelong member of the NRA in 2006. Is there anyone else in America that sees this as a pattern of his politics and tactics to do and say anything to appease the right group at the right time?the ? Shouldn't be to the hearts change in us for gun control,but the overkill of the diehards against it

    July 25, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. belinda

    What he's really saying is I don't care how many people , children , babies have to die . I will never give up the money I get from the NRA . It's too much power . It's more Important that I become President , regardless of how I get there . I really would like to just get it over and done with and pay someone a billion Dollars , to be President . Why go through all this ???

    July 25, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. ge

    looks like the nra are going to keep making sure guys like james holmes get there big guns

    July 25, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. CBR

    Mr. Romney also said that Mr. holmes got his guns legally. Does that make it a reason for people, to purchase assault rifles. He would like the issue to be clouded so that his change in stance won't look like flip flopping.

    The NRA wants people to have the right to bear arms regardless of the type of weapon. Many people would like to see the government ban the selling of assault rifles and other guns typically used in wars. Even the NRA needs to review its policies after this last massacre.

    July 25, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  7. dave

    REALLY! Do you have an idea on how to do that Mittens? I think you are just moving your jaw at the same time you are doing just another TWO STEP as you always do!

    July 25, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  8. Romney is not My Hero

    @California - We democrats are trying to ban manure by getting rid of the GOP. You're right; the GOP does cause more casualties than this incident.

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 25, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Sorensen

    Probably the most stupid and uninformed comment in a very long time. Then again, as long as the NRA is paying!!

    July 25, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    nothing is going to be done and the GOP, NRA and right wing will still have no problem with just anybody being able to buy a AK rifle...oh I means SPORTS rilfle as they prefer you call it,. Then within the next year, maybe sooner maybe later this will happen again, the future culprit is out there right now. And of course the Groundhog's Day cycle will begin once again with the same tired sayings, "guns don't kill people, people do" or "if he had run over and killed people with a truck would you ban trucks?" and the beat goes on........

    July 25, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. Logic N LA

    Changing hearts doesn't save lives- fewer bullets do!
    People with good hearts sometimes mean well, but still shoot in error. If guns were harder to get, and prosecuted stiffer for criminal use, then everbody would win.

    July 25, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. Ted N.

    And how does Mr. Romney plan on "Changing the heart of the American people"? Mormonism for everyone!?!?!?

    July 25, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  13. CTYank

    Do we need further proof that Mitt's out of touch, or maybe bought and paid-for?

    Remember the repub convention in 2004, with the nonsense about Kerry & flip-flop?

    Gotta love truthiness?

    July 25, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. carrotroot

    As long as we have an armed populace stringent gun control laws will not be able to prevent people from going postal, BUT they can mitigate the amount of life lost during these events by restricting certain classes of weapons from civilian use.

    July 25, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  15. dale

    Mit says"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.”

    Fine we all would like that, the question is how?

    July 25, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    If someone gets up in the morning like pathetic coward Bozo-boy and says,"Today I'm going to kill a bunch of people.", gun laws will not stop that from happening. Unfortunately, as long as people like this exist the rest of us will either play the odds every day or suffer through security like TSA more and more.

    July 25, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Doug Marcum

    This guy wants to lead the American society and he is clueless about how lax the gun laws are. You know I don't care whether he is pro gun or anti gun, but to not know that everything the Colorado shooter bought was legal to sell and it was entirely legal for him to buy is just stupidly out of touch. I'm not asking if he can see China from his house in La Jolla, but I expect him to know what's been going on in the country relative to guns ever since JFK was gunned down. He's old enough to know better.

    July 25, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. proudmemberofglobalzero

    Two shootings in front of crowded places close to my home in Palm Beach County Florida in the past week. One was an argument turned into a fight. A bystander pulls out a gun and shoots. Who gets shot? Someone totally NOT involved in any way. Guilty of being in the right place with his family at a restaurant. Where are my rights to go out to a public place and not get shot by the "armed advocates" of permit carry. There was another one in front of a movie theater. Where are my rights to go out in public and not get shot?

    July 25, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  19. The Other Dale

    Romney, give us a list of things Holmes did that was against the law before he started shooting people. One of the first things that came out of this case was the police saying that he bought all his weaponry legally. That seems to support that the gun laws aren't effective and need to be changed.

    But evidently Romney's course of action is that someone just needed to talk to the gunman as he was killing people and that would have solved it. Nice work there, Romney. You could not have been more spineless in your response.

    July 25, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. Amy

    Alexithymic Mitt just got his marching orders from the NRA.

    July 25, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. Steve

    What a weird dude. Is there a least one, just one, issue that he won't flip-flop on besides release of his tax returns? Is this man the best that the Republican Party can produce as its candidate for President of the Unitrd States of America? The party of Reagan is finished!

    July 25, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. Phil T. Listener

    He wants to "change peoples' hearts"?
    Perhaps he should heed some time-tested advice:

    "First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye."

    July 25, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. Paul Williamson

    Guns are great. Assault rifles are even better. Perhaps we should make it legal for a person tp purchase and detanate a nuclear weapon legal as well? I am willing to take my chances with manure and box-cutters, but not guns and assault weapons.

    July 25, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  24. Joe

    Change people's hearts? How does he intend to do that I wonder? There are millions of people in the U.S. to change each and everyone of their thought process would be more of a significant impossibility than to merely ban assault weapons. His solution is not logical nor feasible. I suppose he feels everyone should be allowed to carry a military weapon that can kill hundreds. What kind of weird logic is that? Why is he so afraid of common sense gun control? Handguns perhaps are acceptable but assault weapons that can discharge hundred of bullets per minute is NOT acceptable. Society is Not a war zone! Wish these politicians would get some courage to protect their citizens. Like the cowardly lion.....

    July 25, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  25. Time For Mitt to Fess Up

    I think Mitt sounds like he is in favor of making all drugs legal. If you use the same logic he just gave for gun laws, than they must be applied to drug laws.

    July 25, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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