By Jonathan Easley - 07/23/12 09:16 PM EDT
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that more stringent gun-control laws would not have prevented Friday’s mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater.
“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,” Romney said Monday on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report.
“There are — were, of course, very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado. Our challenge is not the laws, our challenge is people who, obviously, are distracted from reality and do unthinkable, unimaginable, inexplicable things,” he added.
Reports say the alleged shooter, 24 year-old James Holmes, was able to purchase 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the internet. Holmes was armed with two handguns, a shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle for the attack.
The semi-automatic rifle, an AR-15, was illegal under federal law until a ban on it was lifted in 2004.
Romney added that with emotions running so high in the wake of the tragedy, lawmakers should step back and not rush into changing gun control policy.
“I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment and I also believe that this is — with emotions so high right now, this is really not a time to be talking about the politics associated with what happened in Aurora,” he continued. “This is really a time, I think, for people to reach out to others in their community that need help or a comforting hand. Let's do that for now and then we can get on to policy down the road.”
Romney’s statements in the aftermath of the Colorado shooting mirror the White House response. On Sunday, en route to Aurora, to meet with victims, Obama press secretary Jay Carney said the president was committed to preventing gun crime through “existing law.”
In 2004, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed legislation permanently banning the sale of assault weapons. On Monday, Romney also defended that decision, saying that the law included provisions that were supported by Second Amendment activists.
“Actually the law that we signed in Massachusetts was a combination of efforts both on the part of those that were for additional gun rights and those that opposed gun rights, and they came together and made some changes that provided, I think, a better environment for both,” Romney said. “And that's why both sides came to celebrate the signing of the bill. Where there are opportunities for people of reasonable minds to come together and find common ground, that's the kind of legislation I like.”
President Obama and Romney took an unofficial break from campaigning over the weekend and pulled their ads in Colorado as the nation struggled to deal with one of the worst mass killings in its history.
Obama traveled to Aurora on Sunday to meet with victims, a move that Romney lauded as “the right thing to do.”
On Monday, Romney said the campaign was back on.
“I think we are,” he said. “But we're starting also with a level of thoughtfulness and seriousness that I think is appropriate in the aftermath of a tragedy of this nature. Obviously, the campaigns are under way. We're talking about our respective views and at the same time, our hearts are heavy as we think about the funerals that'll be held this week and the families that have been so tragically altered by virtue of the loss of life.”