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. Jack

    Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people," he said.
    That's about as likely as telling a gay person to change their mind and become straight.

    July 26, 2012 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  2. Brad

    This is one of the most splendiferous sound bites of the 2012 election year. Read it carefully. I'll paraphrase for those who don't wish to drop IQ points: 'I don't think I'm going to be able to do X. What I'd rather do is X'. Mitt Romney, ladies and gentlemen.

    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.”

    July 26, 2012 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  3. TheHerbalGerbil

    Well crap, Romney’s actually right about something for once.

    July 26, 2012 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  4. Kajal

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

    Why doesn't this logic apply to abortion, GOP? Why only to gun laws?

    July 26, 2012 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  5. JL. Taylor

    Mr. Romney stands for what ever will get him elected president. He changes his posistion as needed.
    Romney has no convictions. The man hid from the draft durning the 1960's and now promotes himself
    as someone who will be quick to go to war if required. What hypocrite.

    July 26, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  6. Roy

    Romney's for President of Lies, Distortion and Hate. The President of no details, just hate Obama...No spine, just hate Obama. This man is a worthless robot of the Tea Party...When is he ever going to tell the truth about anything, His taxes, His business, when was governor , his faith and his detailed vision for America. Instead he lies and distort others, like he did in the primary. I deal with many republicans who say he has no spine and that he is worse than John Kerry (And they cannot stand or trust him) . MITT STOP LYING TO AMERICA. GIVE AMERICA YOU DETAILED PLAN IF YOU HAVE ONE TO STICK TO.

    July 26, 2012 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  7. Joseph Smith

    Let's see how Romney feels when someone shoots one of his family members...I'm sure he'll feel the same way.

    July 26, 2012 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  8. GOP loons

    It looks like the same nation that leads the world in homicides and who the idiot NRA sheep want to keep assault weapons legal, is probably going to elect a crook and tax evader as president. This country is going to hell and will feel right at home when it gets there.

    July 26, 2012 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  9. Mike

    "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," So that's a reason not to have laws? Or to strengthen certain laws. Not exactly the attitude I would want in a government official.

    July 26, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  10. Claire

    It's good to see someone calling it like it is. We want quick answers to appease our frustration, but the fact is that science has not given us answers to predicting how human behavior, including mental illness, will play out. And studies have shown that gun control does not offer the desired outcomes, either. The safest states are those with the fewest restrictions on firearms. Now if Mr. Romney could return to a reasoned view of women's issues, I might thing he really is a thinking man.

    July 26, 2012 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  11. bigfoot

    How about we ban assault riles. PERIOD.

    July 26, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  12. TimM

    I agree with Gov. Romney that new laws are not going to stop this from happening again. I disagree with changing the hearts of people. Maybe if the laws we have now were just enforced, this guy wouldn't have been able to purchase some of this stuff in the first place. The problem with our laws (choose any area of life) is that they are not being enforced. This is evident when you look at Wall Street (regulations not being enforced), banking (regulations not being enforced). People want to say the housing bubble and recession were caused by deregulation, but I disagree. Most of our woes are from not enforcing the laws we currently have on the books.

    July 26, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  13. Dave A

    Hey california. You didnt loose a loved one in that theatre. You sound like a typical heartless repube

    July 26, 2012 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  14. clephas

    Restricting firearms is irrelevant to the most dangerous criminals, as they have ways of getting around the law. This country – and I personally – will never accept the elimination of firearm ownership, so firearm restriction only serves to condemn the average person to be at a disadvantage against criminals like the gangs and organized crime.

    July 26, 2012 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  15. Rob

    Just keep in mind that guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people. The gun itself is not what we should be looking at here but rather the individual that used it for the purpose of taking human life. You know if this movie theater would not have been a no carry zone for CCW owners and some one in that crowd would have been carrying this may have ended much differently.

    July 26, 2012 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  16. Is this clown really a candidate??

    did this clown actually say that Holmes acquired his munitions illegally? did this asp clown even follow the story at all? does this mormon slapnut even know what he is talking about? hey i know, lets make him president

    July 26, 2012 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  17. Rev

    "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," Funny that it apparently WAS legal for him to have the very weapons that killed 12 and injured 50+. That's the problem Mitt.

    @California manure is used to feed plants. Automatic box cutters were invented to cut boxes. Airplanes, to get people and things from A to B. Assault rifles were created to KILL PEOPLE. 100 round drums? Not for hunting deer, again TO KILL MANY PEOPLE.

    July 26, 2012 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  18. Bob Ramos

    In 2006, ahead of his bid for the 2008 Republican nomination, he became a lifelong member of the NRA.
    -------------------
    This means that Romney is a tool of the NRA. What is needed is a federal law that has teeth in it that will restrict the sale of weapons like these. No one needs an AK-47 for any legitimate purpose. If someone wants to fire one, then do it at a gun club where they would enforce safety plus make it mandatory that these guns be kept in the gun clubs possession. In this case, had the law required the gun shops to check a central database before selling the guns, Holmes would not have been able to buy more than one.

    July 26, 2012 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  19. Hawaii

    Don't ban guns, just ban AK-47's or any weapon that is designed to take down multiple targets in a VERY short period of time. A glock at the theatre armed by a good american would have saved lives. Let's get real. Or at least, only allow special licensing of assault rifles to citizens. Yes I am pro guns, NOT assault rifles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 26, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  20. Common sense!

    Well gun laws long overdue and so do hollywood immolarity regulations! how about that? not popular

    July 26, 2012 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  21. clare

    Re: rommney. what a phoney christian. if he is so religious, then why is he potecting weapons? for the voting power of the nra. he things the middle class and poor are stupid. we know that the bilderberg group is behind the push for your election. you are nothing but a packaged want to be president. do you also belong to the trilateral commission?

    July 26, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  22. don

    Hey Mitt. Why not both? Cant we try not to kill each other and reduce the opportunities for mass murder at the same time?

    July 26, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  23. Crismn

    Ok, we're back to:we'll find the evildoers and prevent them from harm people. Now, last time we did it was during the Bush admin. and te government took away a lot of freedom (patriot act). This means that a Romney administration will start snooping in everybody's life to 'prevent' evil to happen? Wouldn't make more sense to put tighter rulesin place so I won't have the government watching everything that I do?

    July 26, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  24. Randy Johnson

    Wow – what a profound comment Mitt

    July 26, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  25. johnmenacherjr

    I have guns but I have never understood the need for AK47's on the street. I have never used one on a deer either. I do agree though that guns will be found by those wanting them. Just like Immagration laws not being enforced so goes the gun laws. As for Romney i watched the national news last night and apparently his pree person thinks he simply is the president as she kept referring to him as President Romney. I find this incredibly strange but then he has also decidie to take over foriegn policy things in britain as well. So where is his retreat going to be his fav country Switzerland??? flip flopping away~~

    July 26, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
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