Mitt Romney revealed that he is unfamiliar with the details of the largest mass shooting in American history, during an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams. The former Massachusetts governor claimed that alleged gunman in the Aurora, Colorado massacare, James Holmes, illegally obtained his weapons, when in fact Holmes legally purchased the firearms through various national gun chains.
According to a transcript of an interview that will air Wednesday night on NBC Nightly News, the presidential candidate said “it was illegal for him to have many of those [weapons] already,” and suggested that stronger gun laws would not have prevented the tragedy. Instead, Romney claimed that the way to deal with such senseless violence is by “changing the heart of the American people”:
ROMNEY: 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. 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. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential, to improve the lots of the American people.
In fact, 24-year-old Holmes legally purchased every firearm, bullet, and piece of tactical gear that he used for the attack, according to local law enforcement. He bought most of it over the Internet. Mentally ill people are barred from purchasing firearms, but Holmes had no previous record of illness, and would not have been flagged in a background check.
Unfortunately, rather than addressing the inadequacies of the nation’s existing gun laws, Romney instead focused on “changing the heart of the American people” and successfully dodged the larger conversation about gun control.
Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul attempted to clarify her comments in an email to National Journal Wednesday evening. She argued that “Romney was referring to the bombs the shooter set in his apartment, which police found and disarmed after the shooting occurred. Holmes allegedly used legal materials to make an illegal bomb.”