Mitt Romney looks to have committed another gaffe, telling NBC News' Brian Williams in a Wednesday night interview that the Aurora shooting suspect obtained "many of" his weapons illegally, but when you parse his words he's technically correct. And parse Romney's team has, clarifying that he was talking about the homemade bombs with which James Holmes rigged his apartment, not the guns he allegedly used to shoot up a movie theater full of people. Holmes bought the guns and ammunition he used legally, Aurora police have said. Romney's position is that the U.S. needn't strengthen its gun control laws in the wake of the shooting, but should enforce the laws it has. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has suggested stricter controls over assault weapons.
In case you missed it, Williams asked Romney about his views on gun control in an interview for NBC Nightly News: "Perhaps people want to start a conversation about whether an AR-15 should be in the hands of a citizen, whether a citizen should be able to buy 6,000 rounds off the Internet." Romney said: "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." Later, as The Associated Press' Charles Babington and Julie Pace note, Romney's spokesman Danny Diaz clarified: "The illegality the governor is referencing is the ordinances, the devices that were in the home," not the guns. And Romney himself said on Nevada's KRNV-TV that Holmes "had various incendiary devices, bombs of some kind. The idea that saying those things, of course, were illegal, but he had them, simply passing laws does not make the threat of an individual who is deranged, disappear." Romney's original answer, that Holmes shouldn't have had "any weapons," sure sounded like he was including guns, but he was vague enough that one can't hold him to that. So this one doesn't go in the Romney gaffe pile.