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. TM

    Willard just spent a lot of time saying exactly NOTHING! "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," Hey Willard, what about one party MINDLESSLY opposing every solution offered, including ones that THEY originally came up with, in the name of political advantage? Don't waste our time talking about "common ground" when you and the Grand Old Tea Party have yet to move one inch toward it on ANYTHING.

    July 25, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    I wonder how he feels about letting children play with fire. "Don't take their matches, change their hearts!"

    July 25, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  3. craig

    While I happen to agree that these things are more about motive than about purchasing the tools, I wonder why Rmoney thinks the guy having the guns was illegal. He's not, from what I have read, a convicted felon (at least not yet), he doesn't have a history of mental health issues (although he does now), and he's old enough. Exactly what law in place would prevent him from purchasing these guns. The ban on assault rifles might have eliminated one...but...well, yeah, the GOP, backed by the NRA, did away with that one, so....just askin'?

    July 25, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  4. Stentor

    California, If we were to ban manure, we'd have to nail shut the piehole of every Republican politician in this country, & probably a few Blue Dog Democrats as well.

    July 25, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  5. Mike in Texas

    Weak argument California. A gun is a weapon. That is its main purpose. The main purpose of manure is for agriculture not as a weapon. The main purpose of a box cutter is to cut open boxes not as a weapon. You know it's a weak argument so come to the table with more.

    I don't think all guns should be banned, but there is no reason to have assault rifles or magazines that hold 30 or more rounds. Seriously. Do you think the forefathers envisioned that. I bet you support the sale of rocket launchers too.

    July 25, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  6. Cynthia L.

    Mitt Romney signed an assault weapons ban while governor of Mass..

    July 25, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  7. Linden Atrocity

    Although I am for gun rights to a point personally. Who the hell needs an assault rifle anyway? I think Mitt Romney is a moron, who can't make up his mind which side he wants to pander to.

    July 25, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. Joshua Ludd

    Yes, changing mindsets... that will surely happen quickly and stop all this violence that occurs in our sea of guns.

    July 25, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  9. Joshua Ludd


    We actually already regulate chemicals for making explosives including fertilizers and box cutters are not allowed on planes along with numerous other things that could be used as weapons. So, really... why don't we bother to regulate guns in anything like a similar fashion?

    July 25, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. adamsidir

    "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

    What a stupid argument. Bombs are a lot easier to make than machine guns.

    July 25, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  11. phhd

    So I 'll have to dress in full body armor and carry an automatic rifle the next time I go out i public, to protect myself from crazy mass murderers who the NRA support.

    July 25, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  12. carrotroot

    "Military grade heavy assault weapons are not the problem, we just have to convince people to see it that way" there fixed it for you Mitt.

    July 25, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    The bully bishop flip flopping away again . . . . "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.
    So he became a member of the nra to get votes? Do these nra members know that while governor, I didn't see it within the story, he raised hunting fees I believe four times?
    Way to stick it to "your kind" bishop!!

    July 25, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  14. ExPAVIC

    Go For It Mittens

    RoMoney will find out what the Democrats found out. You mess with gun ownership and control, and you will loose elections. It took the Democrats twenty years and several elections, including 2000, 2004, and 2006 to realize this fact. Guns have no positionon the official Democratic Party Plank.

    July 25, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. EKinBedford

    So Romney is arguing that anything I 'can get' should be legal, because I'll get it anyways?


    July 25, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  16. ExPAVIC

    Director Moore can shut his fat face. No way with the Democrats will touch gun control. So he can hold his breath and turn blue.


    July 25, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  17. g

    oh come on put that assault rifle down have a change of heart–why don,t romney have a change of heart a give americans there jobs back

    July 25, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  18. ObjectiveGuy

    It's too complex a subject for a bunch of 2-line soundbites. I live in the city, but I know many people who live in rural areas, who truly need guns for protection, hunting, etc. How do you somehow selectively determine who can and who cannot own a gun (other than the obvious laws currently in place)? Part of the reason our founding fathers included the right for citizens to bear arms is to prevent the government from deciding to do a martial-law style takeover of citizens rights and freedoms. Given another four years, I could actually see Obama trying to pull something like that, so he could be our ruler forever. That is precisely why I went out and bought a gun recently, and then took an NRA-approved training class, so that I would know how to safely handle, use, and store it. Plus, with all of the class warfare that Obama is inciting, I feel the need to have more protection than what the police may be able to provide. Like I said, gun ownership is a very complex issue.

    July 25, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  19. ED FL

    Give Romney all the gun buisnesses in the world , then he can declare bankruptcy .The world will be without guns but Romney can go put all the money in more foriegn banks so he doesn't have to pay US taxes.

    July 25, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    America's love affair with guns will eventually be its demise. With all of the shootings in the country each year, it's worse than a having a war with another country. Time to wake up before it is too late.

    July 25, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  21. Manny

    He said that he purchased those weapons illegally. He was able to make those purchases legeally. That was not true. Oh, I forgot that was Romney . He never let facts get in his way. ANd he was a Mormon pastor.

    July 25, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    The "essential" task at hand involves tackling individual mindsets, rather than crime legislation. No need for laws against killings, beatings, thefts or robberies. Let's follow the same logic Mitt and the NRA would have us do with guns.

    July 25, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  23. Brad

    Once again a Republican speaks without doing homework. Every gun this idiot had was obtained legally. That's what's crazy! It was actually legal for him to have all of these! Changing the heart of the American people? What does that even mean? There are crazy people out there. There always will be crazy people out there. Can we find some way to prevent these people from getting guns? You know, like every other country in the world?

    July 25, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  24. mike.s

    There are risks to living in a free society. Lots of people have died, and even more deliberately put themselves in harm's way to get us the freedoms we enjoy. If you'd rather have security than freedom and liberty, I understand that gun violence in North Korea is almost non-existent.

    July 25, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  25. GaryB

    I don't think "improving the lot of the American people" would have done anything to stop this shooter. He was rasied in a comfortable middle-class to upper middle-class family. He went to the best schools where he got nearly all straight As. He was closed to graduating with a PhD that could have easily opened the door to a 6-figure career. His "lot in life", at least financially speaking (which seems to be what Mitt was getting at) and his prospects were actually pretty good.

    July 25, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
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