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. Vader

    @California: Straw man argument. Box cutters, manure and airplanes all have a real, useful purpose, and are being misused in your scenarios.

    Automatic weapons are designed solely for one purpose: kill and maim as efficiently as possible, and strangely enough, seem pretty effective at it every time.

    July 25, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. Michael

    So let me get his straight, what we are hearing in a convoluted way is that Romney was for banning assault weapons before he was against it?

    July 25, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  3. Aunt Fanny

    Dear Mr. President,

    Please help us. I don't know how to fix this problem, but we are begging you to rescue us from this scourge of random violence. We are afraid to go to school, or to the movies. We are afraid of the guy in the car driving next to us, and the guy in line ahead of us at the convenience store. I know that you are trying to solve a lot of problems, but we won't be able to cure cancer, or find energy sources, or improve the economy if we aren't free to conduct our daily lives in better safety than we have now.

    Please, before anything else, find a way to make us safer.

    July 25, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  4. artraveler

    California, I am glad that your family wasn't among the vioctims and your concern about them is certainly appreciated. This wasn't a Dem/Rep issue except one party sems to think that they need a gun to make up for other physical short-comings!

    July 25, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  5. tonyl

    Romney's gun solution is etch a sketch err err we don't need to do anything. Let it be. It's all good.

    July 25, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  6. Silence Dogood

    So, his plan is to wish the problem away? Or, "Why don't YOU people change because I'M not going to do anything?"

    July 25, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  7. Stopthemadness

    Of course he does he is backed by the NRA and by gun manufacturers. Not a surprise there.

    July 25, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  8. Mike in Wisconsin

    Romney is not showing leadership as Obama has! Obama has stated " ....... AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals," This gun mentality is arrogance and disregard for the victims of gun violence!

    July 25, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  9. Larry L

    A "change in hearts"? This is more of Romney's hollow, meaningless statements used to avoid actually saying anything. It's like his "self-deportation" plan for illegal immigrants. It's the same crap he uses when he promises tax cuts and "increased revenue". It's the same useless nonsense as his promise to give us healthcare with the same provisions as the current healthcare law – but refuses to say how he'll pay for it. He signed an assault gun ban as Governore but now is against the concept. Republican fat-cats provided this spoiled, hollow-shell of a man because he is pliable and willing to change his viewpoints when it suits his personal situation.

    July 25, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  10. Karm99

    Romney the man without a spine, just pathetic.

    Since you obviously don't listen to the news, the shooter bought the assault rifle, the 100 round magazine and the 6,000 rounds of ammo legally.

    Get a clue!

    July 25, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. Fm

    "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."

    If he thinks changing the law does not help how does he explain the far lower gun deaths in countries with democratically elected governments and strict gun laws (e.g. The Netherlands, Germany, etc.)?

    July 25, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  12. Homer10

    I tend to think that there are already enough gun laws to cover just about anything you do with a gun. All we need to do is enforce the ones we have now. However I do live in a rural forest that is prone to fires. I'd like to see people go to a shooting range to shoot, than to target practice in their back yard during fire season.

    July 25, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  13. Richard Martin

    Why be shocked. If Romney was getting money into his Pac from Chicken Farmers and a rooster poked out the eye of someone he will say, "I do not think the rooster was at fault....the roosters need be be counciled. This guy would sell his children to get elected, and the rich coporations, wall street, and super rich who hide money overseans are pouring in money to make sure he does.

    July 25, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  14. Excoastie

    We do not need new gun laws, we need to enforce the ones we have, But until the "Brown Shirts" at the NRA allow Congress to properly fund the ATF nothing is going to happen. Nobody in Congress has the cajones to stand up to the thugs at the NRA, they are the organization which is allowing these tragic events to happen. I am waiting for the President to say enough is enough, you know for sure Romney will never stand up to the NRA.

    July 25, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  15. kim

    The change of heart he is looking for is pot.

    July 25, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  16. Erik in Houston, TX

    Romney – a milk toast candidate – like Kerry, Dole, and Dukakis of yesteryears. He's politically inconsequential and won't win.

    July 25, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  17. Inglourious

    If more guns and less government make a country safer, then Somalia is the safest country in the world.

    July 25, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. Sonny Chapman

    In 2012, Mitt has got the same amount of guts that he had in 1968 when he had to decide about PERSOANLLY defending this country against the Communist Threat posed to America in the Vietnam War. ZERO guts.

    July 25, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  19. Paul

    Geez... it's always the same. A lot of words come out, and nothing making any sense is said.
    "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. 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.”

    "people who provide harm"?
    He can't even say the word "gun", it's "things" lol
    It's his usual incoherent ramblings with zero content.

    July 25, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  20. NotFooledByDistractions

    What a ridiculous, nonsensical response...change hearts. Good lord, is this man living in fantasy land? He obviously inhabits an alternate reality. He's the master of emptiness.

    July 25, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. Dnick47

    No one needs an assult rifle.... PERIOD! There is no recreational reason for having one unless your recreation is killing other humans; or to pretend to mowing them down to inflate your otherwise suppressed ego.

    July 25, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  22. S. Winkler

    The govt. or the American people are not going to change potential mass murders or terrorists minds. If the Congress does not ban assault weapons, we are aiding and abetting these madmen in their desire to kill our children, their parents, and our govt. officials.

    July 25, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  23. pflatman

    Here's a thought, Mittens: If we changed the laws that currently allow massive U.S. dollar investments abroad with no tax penalties or repercussions, would you say that's good or bad? Is it in your tiny, wretched heart to take your dollars and reinvest in America?

    "...And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won't."

    July 25, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  24. pflatman

    "ban manure"

    Hey, California – try throwing some common sense into your useless argument. It's about assault weapons, pure and simple.

    You guys really don't get it. But keep up the manure shoveling.

    July 25, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  25. Bob in Arizona

    Romney says ". "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." Until he started his rampage, what did the young man do that was against the law?

    July 25, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
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