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. King

    it's ironic for mitt to mentioned heart, because all those folks he left on the side walk when he ship their jobs to China doesn't think so. why on earth does american citizen need assault rifles in their neighbor hood. come on folks the hunters don't need them, the range shooters doesn't need them, so why not just ban them. oh I forgot, the scary NRA guys going to take your cookie.

    July 25, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  2. texasgreenacres

    Romney wants you to change your heart instead of gun laws? How about let's change our mind and not vote for him?

    July 25, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. Surfer George

    ""Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people," he said.
    ???
    Seriously? You imagine that ""Changing the heart of" this guy, for instance would even be POSSIBLE?
    There are things that need to be changed, I admit I don't know what, exactly, but you are not going to get through to a CRAZY PEOPLE!

    July 25, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. Big Ray

    Romney makes no sense. Nothing Holmes did was technically illegal. The fact that the laws permitted such action needs to be addressed. When the 2nd Amendment was crafted, the must powerful weapon was a musket. I don't think they had an AR 15 with a 100 round clip in mind. If Holmes opened fire at an NRA convention, we would see laws change as fast as legally possible
    I wonder if any one of the victims has a card carrying NRA member in their family. They should be asked to do the eulogy.

    July 25, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  5. enuff

    Romney needs to check his facts. The shooter bought his weapons LEGALLY. And these were assault weapons, not hunting. If there had been laws regarding these kinds of weapons, the shooter MAY still have been able to purchase them, but it would have been harder to get them than just ordering over the internet. As for people's hearts, people are prone to sin. Being a man of "faith" he should know this.

    July 25, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  6. Larry L

    Mitt Romney signed a ban against assault weapons when he was Governor. He has forgotten that event like all of his flip-flops. He is an incredible liar. How can Republicans support a man who has absolutely no convictions? He flip-flopped on abortion, immigration, healthcare, taxation, and now gun control laws. What a political weasel.

    July 25, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. stew

    So he was a life long member of the spit ball club and that gave him a open door into the NRA. He doesn't need people to change their hearts, he needs people's change and will bleed everyone out of any savings they may have left over from all his Wall Street buddies stick 'em thefts.

    July 25, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  8. crazier by the day

    "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.”

    Kind of like the movie "Minority Report"? Is Mitt a seer of future crime? What kind of powers do the magic underwear have, anyway?

    July 25, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  9. Kenny K

    The guy got the weapons legally. Why was he allowed to get so many weapons legally?

    July 25, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  10. Gambi

    Gee Mitt in a "perfect world" all hearts change.......in the meantime lets ban all assault weapons as we did in 1994. If I were a cop I'd go out on strike until assault weapons were banned. The only reason to carry armor piercing weapons is to kill the ones who wear armor to protect them against assault weapons and that folks is our police force who try to protect us from the worst of society. Come on Mitt man up on this one.

    July 25, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  11. jimzcarz

    "To improve the lots of the American People" The Lots? What are we peasants?

    July 25, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  12. Tom

    As usual, Willard Romney does't know what he's talking about.

    July 25, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  13. Mitzie

    "Changing hearts". Really...this is this man's plan? Does this man ever think beyond an election?

    July 25, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  14. paul

    Mitt is so scared of the NRA that when they say "jump" he says, "how high"??? Mitt is also so scared of losing the vote of a group that he says anything that will appease that particular group. He checks the "wind" everyday to see which way it is blowing. Romney has done more "flip flopping" than a fish thrown on the dock.

    July 25, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  15. aaron

    The super rich rarely have to worry about getting gunned down. They can pay for protection. They can also buy their way out of legal problems when they commit murder. Having this close to billionaire try to relate to what the average guy facing for survival is the same as him reaching for the sun and moon.

    July 25, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. Brian from DC

    Funny, he was against assault weapons when he was governor of Massachusetts. Oh that's right, we're not supposed to talk about his time there. I forgot. Shhhhhh.........

    July 25, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  17. noworries

    Didn't the Dems just sell guns to Mexicans so they could shoot a border control officer in the back? How about that for his gun control policies

    July 25, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  18. Jrh

    Holding hands and singing Kumbaya isn't going to fix the problem Mittens. Assault weapons in the hands of the public are the problem. And you... You're the problem too.

    July 25, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  19. S-Hug

    Hmm... change people's ways of thinking... improve them. Mind control? Genetic enhancement? "Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people" If he weren't Republican, I might think he were talking about education... but that would be Socialism.

    July 25, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  20. Phil in KC

    On what does he base his observance that this guy should not have had any weapons – hindsight? He'd never had anything other than a parking ticket. Everyone says he was a normal guy.
    Also – if the guy had not had an assault weapon, there might have been a few less killed and/or injured. There is really no good reason for anyone outside the military to have assault weapons. They are built for one purpose: to kill people efficiently. There is no real sporting purpose.

    July 25, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  21. chrismchale

    If any of his family had been involved he'd be singing different tune. Therefore his position is inherently false and political.

    July 25, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  22. Jack

    Then it's about time that the Republican's stop the negativity towards anybody that don't agree with them; are you listening Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Hannity

    July 25, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  23. Religious Guy

    This is the funniest comment by Mitt. He says “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.”

    Thats the ultimate police state....he can enact laws to spy on citizens to the extreme using this excuse. If he does not, then that means he is not serious in preventing these kinds of incidents.

    July 25, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  24. Newmoon2

    "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."

    This person obtained his weapons and ammo LEGALLY, but Mitt says he shouldn't have been able to have them... based upon WHAT criteria? But Mitt's not for changing any laws... way to go, Weathervane!

    July 25, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  25. Eh......What?

    What exactly does “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.” mean???

    I think keeping them from having the capacity to harm must mean gun control? Or is he proposing rounding up graduate students?

    July 25, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
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