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. Steve

    California, box cutters are banned from airplanes. Your definitian as a justification of automatic and semiautomatic weapons relative casualty numbers is really sick.

    July 25, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Guest

    Nobody is trying to ban guns, why don't people start using their brains. How is it a bad thing for people to go through screenings and background checks in order to obtain guns. Make them register them as well. If you are convicted of a violent crime, or are mentally unstable, then you should not be given a license for a gun. Why do Republicans think that gun control = "taking my guns away" ?? I don't have a problem with having guns for hunting, sport shooting, or self defense in the home. However, there are certain people in this world that should not have the ability to go legally buy a gun.

    July 25, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. Steve

    It seems to me the only ones who were on the ball was the staff at Lead Valley Gun Range who denied James Holmes a membership. Maybe we can call for gun store and range employees to at least get guys like Holmes on the radar.

    July 25, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Peter

    California wrote:

    "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."

    For the 73rd time, manure and box cutters have a civilian purpose.

    What is the civilian purpose for high powered weapons and one person owning tons and tons and tons of ammo?

    July 25, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  5. Peter

    Romney does not want any more restriction (like the monitoring of usually high amounts of ammunition purchases by the Feds) yet he wants to try to ferret out people like the shooter.

    Just how does he intend to do that?

    Even Bill O'Reilly is for the monitoring of the purchase of large amounts of ammo and high powered guns!

    July 25, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  6. Right and Wrong

    So essentially what Mitt is saying is... It's pointless to make a law banning weapons, because "bad guys" will find a way to obtain them anyways?
    Then why doesn't he feel the same way about marijuana?
    It's pointless to have a law making it illegal, when people will find a way to obtain it anyways.

    July 25, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  7. James

    Gun control is necessary if the U.S. is to avoid civil unrest in the future.

    July 25, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. Hatemorons

    Hey california,
    just a quick note that according to the brady campaign there was 866 accidental shooting. sounds like there were a few more of them than this case.

    July 25, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Juxtapoz

    So because we can't stop crazy people from doing crazy things, we don't need better gun laws? Tell me then, why were fighting a WAR ON TERROR? We can't stop all terrorism, even when we occupy entire countries, but Repukes LOVED all those new regulations on the PATRIOT Act, didn't they? They loved all the new policies that force people to get body's canned, profiled, and all the rest of it. And what about illegal aliens? We can't stop that, so why bother with NEW LAWS like the one in AZ? Oh right because Repukes want to look like they're doing something about THOSE problems, but violent people getting their hands on assault rifles? Why we just can't afford risking our freedoms for that.

    They saved grandma from death panels just so she could get molested by airport security, and now they're saving us from illegals so that crazy people who were born here can gun down everyone in our neighborhood. It all seems familiar, like when they saved Iraq from Saddam by cooking up a lie and bombed it to the ground. And THESE are the people who tell you to be very afraid whenever someone from the govt shows up and tells you they're here to help? LOL!

    July 25, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  10. Kevin

    "In 2006, ahead of his bid for the 2008 Republican nomination, he became a lifelong member of the NRA."


    July 25, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. Lunch Lady

    Obama has the exact same view. "The current laws don't need to be changed, we just need to work on enforcing them"

    So why does CNN continually paint Romney as having some radical view because he doesn't support new legislation ?

    Maybe CNN is one-sided smear campaign.

    July 25, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. ohio voter

    oh my goodness what in the world was his solution?
    that was as they say clear as mud.
    please please voters let's not repeat 2000-2008.

    July 25, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  13. FedUp2

    "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 what internment camp for those that pose a danger will they be sending you to? Yikes! Those nuts worry about a NWO of conspiracy and control? There you go! Is it the old "Hearts and Minds" argument, or is there going to be an certain agenda of conservative values placed upon this judgement criteria as they round up those that supposedly pose a threat? Scary.

    July 25, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. TAK

    A surprisingly sensible analysis from a very unlikely source. Well said, Mitt! Too bad Obama, Schumer, Bloomberg or Rahm Emanuel did not have the guts to say something similar.

    July 25, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  15. 21k

    the gop does not stand up to the nra unless one of their own gets harmed, ie, reagan. then they passed the brady bill.

    July 25, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. Jeffer65

    So Mr. Romeny, how to you go about changing people's hearts? Mankind has been trying to do that forever, but can't.

    July 25, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. Liz the First

    Gee, what a great policy. 'just be nice and don't shoot anybody.' is there any republican out there with even an iota of grasp on reality? this guy just needs to be the president of La-La Land! that's where he and all his dittoheads live. this nonsense is proof positive that repugs care far more about guns than about people's lives. how much more proof does anyone need that these are monsters?

    July 25, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  18. Derek

    "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,"

    How so? It has been determined that he brought the guns legally? Romney is basically saying we should round up all the people who might do us harm and ensure they do not get guns.. so who gets to decide who might do us harm?

    July 25, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Mitt Romney is turning into a real Martin Luther King, Jr or Mahatma Gandhi ?
    "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.

    He bought the weapons legaly Mr. Romney! If you want to talk about mental health and how your administration will slash that budget , we can talk about that.

    Romney / Adelson

    Change in Hearts 2012

    July 25, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  20. Zeflik

    IAs the matter of fact, James Holmes got all of his weapons legally and he had a right to possess them. So, Mr. Romney is, frankly, full of it.

    July 25, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. SC

    This is stupid comment coming from Romney. Who are you to tell people to change hearts but not the gun laws? Even Jesus failed to change people's hearts and therefore, people are still wicked long after he was gone. And you think people will follow what you just said and give up shooting and terrorizing other people. Stupid!

    July 25, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  22. Benji

    Maybe Kolob Jesus can talk to his brother, the devil and they can put on magic underwear and change bad people's heart?

    July 25, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  23. Texas Bob

    Is there a policy in his statment. NOT. Do you want this to lead our country???

    July 25, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  24. Yep

    It's the truth. Exactly what this country needs and the One who changes hearts is Christ. But we can't have that now can we? Baloney! Once we humble ourselves and get back to God's ways we will see improvement in every aspect of life. Too bad the unbelievers are blinded by Satan and keep promoting the lies. As stated in the Holy scriptures, Satan came to kill, steal and destroy and he sure is having a time of it. Wake up folks – we need to turn back to God.

    July 25, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  25. wgf

    Sounds like Romney is saying that laws are pointless because some people will violate them. I'm not sure that's the right attitude for someone who wants to be head of the executive branch.

    July 25, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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