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Romney rejects new gun laws in interview

Mitt Romney, responding to the deadly shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., discussed gun control during an interview that aired tonight.

Speaking on NBC News, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee rejected the notion that tougher gun laws can prevent such events as the one in Aurora, where James Holmes is accused of killing a dozen people and wounding 58 others.

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“We can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won’t,” Romney said in the interview, which was filmed in London on the first day of the candidate’s weeklong trip to Europe and Israel. “Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential to improve the lots of the American people.”

In 2004, when he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a state ban on assault weapons — such as the AR-15 police say Holmes used — shortly before a federal ban on the guns expired.

“These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense,” Romney said at the time. “They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.”

But during his first run for president, in 2007, Romney said he did not support “any new gun laws, including any new ban on semiautomatic firearms.”

In the current election, Romney has continued to oppose new federal gun laws, saying they would “do nothing more than burden law-abiding citizens while being ignored by criminals.”

He joined the National Rifle Association in 2006 and has sought the organization’s support by casting himself as a better protector of the Second Amendment than President Obama.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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