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. Orwell seen it before

    Guns are more important than anything.

    Buy more legal guns is the bishop's plan, mouth piece for the NRA.

    July 25, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. Lip Service - nothing more

    I still insist, RobMe belives he's talking to a bunch of dixie farmers from the 1930's. I honestly do not kow how this man will get support if he takes the WH. He just said absolutely nothing that makes any sense. At least we can understand him when he flip-flops.

    July 25, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. Planner922

    Romney flat out told a big lie. He said the equipment the shooter had was illegal. It wasn't. It was ALL legally obtained.
    He just cain't seem to help himself. He will tell a lie when the truth would serve him better.
    I don't trust him.

    July 25, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  4. Ashley from Ohio

    Oh, I get it . . . We just ask all the neo Nazis and other gun nuts armed with automatic weapons, "Please don't do anything bad with them." Nice goin' Mitt!

    July 25, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  5. Flip-Flop-Whatever-to-be-on-top

    Mitt stands for nothing. I'd rather have a President that stands by his convictions and is trying to improve things than some obsequious parasite who will say anything to gain a vote.

    July 25, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. Gurgyl

    Flip-flop, he passed assault ban

    July 25, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  7. Tom

    So, ummm, which is it? Romney is for an assault weapons ban or against it? After reading all this jibberish, He still doesn't say which one.

    July 25, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  8. J.V.Hodgson

    The last I heard the guy had everything legally per local cops. Romney's position says no need to add laws when what he got was illegal.. they werent. More puff and nonsense and yet another flip flop and just like the rest of them scared of the electoral power of a PAC rather than normal sensible reasonable voters following sensible changes to laws and still upholding constitutional rights.

    July 25, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Romney is right on – if a person wants to kill people, they will find a way to do it regardless of the laws. People's hearts need to be changed....not gun (or knife, or bomb, or ninja stars, or acid, etc.) laws.

    Let's stop chopping at the branches of the problem, and get at the tree which is that American families are falling are being raised without responsible parents, and sometimes with no parents at all. No wonder we have so many problems in our nation.

    July 25, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  10. sonnie3

    Mitt is right, and as a NRA member and a big supporter of the 2nd ammendment. We have this amendment to protect our selves from a government out of control that wants to change us from citizens to subjects. The wisdom of our forefathers was good.

    July 25, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  11. Smeagel4T

    NRA – The gun industry lobbying group. The NRA has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment and everything to do with promoting the revenue stream of the gun industry. That's why their solution to gun violence is "more people should own guns".

    July 25, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  12. Ben

    This is just stupid. it's repurposing the "guns don't kill people" argument. Add to that if a Democrat had said the exact same words then Romney's attack dogs would probably call them a socialist.

    July 25, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  13. Rob in MO

    Actually, it appears that Holmes acquired his arsonal legally.

    July 25, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  14. 1rooster

    CONFUSED, PARANOID, WEAK Mitt Romney is afraid to cross his dad, the NRA President. He might get a whipping.

    July 26, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  15. John

    Fine, Mitt. But if people WON'T purge the evil in their hearts, what should we do about their ability to kill us? Nothing? Oh, I know. Hire a bodyguard. Not hire more police, who try to protect everyone, just a PERSONAL bodyguard. Why didn't I think of that? Or heck, just do what you're trying to do, become POTUS and get free Secret Service.

    July 26, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  16. I've always voted

    So Romney wants to take away our guns!!!!

    July 26, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  17. ohgran

    "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.” What jibberish from someone who wants to lead this country! Just how would he propose to "find" these people?

    July 26, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  18. RR

    Just because manure or the ??cutter cannot be banned does not exclude looking for more stringent supervision of gun ownership

    July 26, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  19. KF

    Now who's 'Hope-y Change-y'? Romney's answer to an actual problem (gun violence – not bizarre tragedies) with simple practical solutions (ban assault weapons, large ammo clips and massive weapon stockpiling) is to change hearts? Hey Mitt, how about getting Iran and N. Korea to just be 'nice' to us. That's so easy, why didn't anyone try it before?

    July 26, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  20. Skipper

    Thanks Mitt! For saying.... well, nothing. Trying to appeal to everyone by giving no actual opinions.

    July 26, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  21. fred37ify

    Any type of gun control right before an election will sink the candidate ! Guess who just shot them self in the foot ! It wasn't Romney !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

    July 26, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  22. Critical Thinker

    The Second Amendment is outdated. It served its purpose when state militias were needed to defend the U.S. Now, only shotguns and hunting rifles should be allowed for private citizens. Mega-more people are killed/wounded by handguns and assault weapons than are defended by them. It's time to outlaw all handguns and assault weapons and make possession of them a felony.

    July 26, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. Pander Express

    Are there any issues that Romney has not been on both sides of? Hunstman hit the nail on the head when he said that
    Romney is a "well lubricated weather vane"

    July 26, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  24. Techknowledgy

    Typical Rmoney non-answer. Change of heart? Really? That's it? The NRA OWNS him.

    July 26, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  25. Mike

    Having a pistol for home protection, and a rifle for hunting, make perfect sense. However, that is not material re the Colorado shootings. The shooter in that situaion used a legal assault weapon.

    It's legal in the US for persons to own assault rifles; their only purposes are military or criminal. Mr Romney seems to not understand this point, or does understand and wants to remain in the good graces of the NRA. I

    It's a ridiculous position for a person planning to run for president to take.

    July 26, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
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