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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. SurRy

    1994: Romney backed 5-day waiting period on gun sales and supported firearms-control measures opposed by the National Rifle Association: the so-called Brady Bill. Today, he's towing the NRA lobby line. This slimeball doesn't stand for anything. What a thin-skinned mealy-mouthed flip-flopper.

    July 26, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. RobGR

    California, the GOP is just as complicit as the Dems in destroying the integrity of the 2nd Amendment. Wake up, please don't get caught up in the false two party/one agenda farce.

    Romney has a long history of flip flopping and cutting up the 2nd Amendment. Ironically, last year more guns were sold in the US than any other year, so don't even begin to tell me Obama has an anti-gun agenda. However, his renewal of the Patriot Act and the Fast Furious fiasco do smack of a building agenda.

    Look, Holmes was a maniac, but persecuting millions of law abiding gun owners while destroying the integrity of the 2nd Amendment is thoughtless and criminal. But is seems Americans are quite happy throwing away their rights when they don't even notice the President renewing the Patriot Act... seriously, don't people see the ramifications of doing such a thing?

    July 26, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  3. hmsgeorgev

    Murder is already against the law, and it did not stop the murderer.
    The election will be more effective if the issues are relevant. The Second Amendment prohibits any action on this subject. It only distracts everyone from the main point.
    If the economy is going to produce widespread poverty, drought and famine, what party do you want in office?

    July 26, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  4. Hoosier2012

    The king of flip-flop....How can anyone trusted this guy. More dangerously, he is running for POTUS. All he cares for is money and more money. Even holding a fund raiser events while he suppose to be on a foreign policy learning trip. What's a joke!!!

    July 26, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  5. SurRy

    California, there are approximately 10,000 gun deaths in the US every year. What does this have to do with Democrats? Romney supported banning certain guns while Governor in Mass (one of his many flip-flops). Many Republicans and Independents support more stringent gun laws. Why is it our First Amendments rights always up for debate but not the Second Amendment? If only there was a wealthy lobby funded by speech manufacturers.

    July 26, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  6. mike

    Romneys in England half a day and he shows how completely stupid he is at foreign affairs..unbelievable...not Anglo Saxon what in Gods name does that infer! This guy is totally clueless

    July 26, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  7. Kahuna

    "Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people," he said.

    Well Romney, cutting taxes for the richest 1% and cutting the corp. tax rate will do wonders to "improve the lots of the American people". NOT

    July 26, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  8. Sharon

    Romney have been brought and sold by the NRA. They are one of his biggest co
    ntributors. Vote Romney in and he will truly sell America to the big corporations. For those who disagree take a look at his Super Pac, they are all Wall street and big corporations.

    July 26, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  9. enuff

    CALIFORNIA – Do you even realize how heartless your comment is to the families and victims of these events? you are trying to minimize their pain by saying there should have been more? how about you make a trip to colorado and say that to their faces?

    July 26, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  10. helenecha

    Good to see what Romney wants to do. Godspeed!

    July 26, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  11. FreudianSlip

    Did the Republican nominee for President just say that he's in favor of thought police?

    He's taking "guns don't kill people, people kill people" to a whole new level - he wants to detect and stop people who think aboucommittingng crimes before they happen.

    July 26, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  12. ibsode

    Since when assault weapeons are for self defense? Romney is a businessman and that is what he does in every second of his life. For Romney Americans are costumers that he need to satisfy even if he has to lie, flip flop, the main purpose is to sell the product.
    Republicans confirm to Romney that hr just need to pour Millions on the primary and he will be the nominate even though Rick Santorium was clearly the most valuable candidate.
    Romney will never change . He will tell everything, change his position as many times needed to get elected.
    It is up to the Americans to show him that we are not costumers and we are not going to buy whatever he is selling.

    Did Romney believe that his Dad was wrong to release more than 10 years of taxes return?

    Why Romney can provide 23 years of taxes return when he is was seeking the post of VP for McCain and he is not willing to provide more than 2 when he is running for President of the USA?

    Did he believe that the VP's position is more important than the one for President ?

    Wake up America, we are not customers and we are one the smartest nation on earth.

    July 26, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  13. DaveHippo

    Just say no to massacres. Romney is a veritable Buddha.

    July 26, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  14. Alabama

    Politicians need to stop taking campaign funds from the NRA and just outlaw assault weapons.

    July 26, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  15. DefyTheGods

    Let's say gun laws change such that gun ownership is illegal. I, as a law-abiding citizen, would be compelled to comply. After all, I'm no criminal. I don't have the guts to buy or own guns illegally. Criminals, however, are a different breed. You see, they do what they do regardless of the law. That's why they're criminals. Does it make sense to toughen laws that are ignored by criminals in the first place? Anyone, who wants to acquire firearms for criminal activity will do so regardless of the law! What do criminals do? Hint:They break laws!

    July 26, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  16. pogojo

    The Colorado shooter used a AR15, this has a .223 round, just a little bigger than a .22. The whole problem is it looks like a military weapon, but no real army would issue these to their troops.

    July 26, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  17. Chris24

    Lets make guns and ammo free of charge. Let's give tax breaks to gun owners.
    Let's shoot each other and make it legal. Let's let NRA run the country.
    (oops, they already do!)

    July 26, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  18. BurstBubble

    Yes, it is very sad that all those people died and many more were injured. The country has enough gun laws and people that buy assault rifles are buying for any number of reason, yet I don't believe 99% people buy them to hurt other people.
    So people want to ban weapons from people that don't hurt anyone? For a while now we have been going by minority rules.
    Do you really want to apply this to the guns when the majority don't hurt anyone? Americans are becoming sheep. I really believe the solution is education and choice.. People need to choose in by choice and not told what to do all the time.

    July 26, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  19. Dave

    If one of Romney's precious military dodging sons or daughters had gone down, he would be singing a different tune.
    As the middle class crashes, thank you republicans, and more people are angry and out of work, there will be more of this type of nut case.. How come if you add all the gun violence in Europe it is far less than HERE??? WHY? Because the laws are more strict .. DUH!
    Sure people can go around laws but if the punishment for illegal weapons is greater then it will slow down the sale of the overkill type guns.. Look at other countries.. how do they manage to control gun violence? Take a lesson America!!

    July 26, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  20. Deb in MT

    "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

    Well, no,Mittens: his gun and ammo purchases were legal. Not sure about the IEDs he built, though, so I'd give you partial credit on that one.

    "...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.” -Romney

    How do you propose to do that? Retroactively? Do we all have to submit to mandatory psych testing?

    Perhaps you should concentrate on going after the "Soviet Union", since you and your advisors seem to think this is still 1991. Maybe you could go after the Visigoths next, ya think?

    July 26, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  21. New York

    Boooo... he became a member of the NRA before bidding for the Republican nomination. That says it all! I do not trust the guy who needs to kiss up to the NRA to be elected president!

    July 26, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  22. Sf

    How about we invite al qaeda into our country? The right will support them in having any gun or wmd of their choice!

    July 26, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  23. Doug Boedecker

    Romney said the killer bought those weapons illegally, that is false. He obtained everything legally. Why does CNN not report the big story here? Romney just stated something that was actually false and this so called news publication does nothing to point that out. Pathetic

    July 26, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  24. fekt


    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.

    Are you really suggesting that the 9/11 hijackings equal all other box cutter related homicides. Or that the Oklahoma City bombing is equal to all other manure bombings. You cite 2 instances of mass murder to downplay the threat posed by guns. I've heard it's just as easy to use a bomb as a gun argument quite often lately. Over 8000 people a year are shot in the USA with a gun and killed. EVERY YEAR. Many years it's much higher. Are you suggesting there are 8000 plane hijackings or 8000 bombings in the USA every year to compare this too. You don't even have 8 combined in the last 10 years. In the last ten years almost 100,000 americans were killed by a gun. How many manure bombs or box cutter fatalites do you have in that time. Stop being facetious.

    July 26, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |

    OK now he can have my vote, BYE BYE OB...

    July 26, 2012 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
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