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Mitt Romney: Additional Gun Laws Wouldn't Have Stopped Aurora Tragedy

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By Sam Youngman

RENO, Nevada, July 23 (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has backed gun control measures in the past, said on Monday that additional laws would not have stopped last week's massacre in a 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 told CNBC's Lawrence Kudlow in an interview.

Both Romney and his opponent, Democratic President Barack Obama, have demurred on the prospect of new gun control laws in the days since a gunman opened fire during a showing of the new "Batman" movie in a Denver suburb early on Friday, killing 12 and wounding 58.

In the interview, Romney said that "very stringent" gun laws already exist in Colorado. Specifically, Romney was asked about laws that might ban the online sale of ammunition or restricting the sales of semi-automatic weapons.

"Our challenge is not the laws, our challenge is people who, obviously, are distracted from reality and do unthinkable, unimaginable, inexplicable things," Romney said.

Some gun-rights groups have been skeptical of Romney because of his support for gun control measures when he served as governor of Massachusetts.

When asked if an assault weapons ban had worked in Massachusetts, Romney focused instead on how the law had bipartisan support.

"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, and that's why both sides came to celebrate the signing of the bill," Romney said. (Editing by Alistair Bell and Mohammad Zargham)

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