We will shortly be hearing from both President Obama and Mitt Romney about the fatal shootings in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Here, by way of context and without commentary, are some of the candidates’ more memorable past remarks on the subject of firearms in America.

“I’m not a big-game hunter. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then.” —Mitt Romney, April 2007


“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

—Barack Obama, at an April 6, 2008 fundraiser in California.


“Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us. It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations—to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized—at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do—it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

—Barack Obama, at the January 12, 2011 memorial service for the Tucson shooting.


“We need a President who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners. President Obama has not; I will. We need a President who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen, and those seeking to protect their homes and their families. President Obama has not; I will. And if we are going to safeguard our Second Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.

We’ve seen enough of President Obama over the last three years to know that we don’t need another four. In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election. As he told the Russian president last month when he thought no one else was listening, after his re-election he’ll have a lot more, quote, ‘flexibility’ to do what he wants. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but looking at his first three years, I have a very good idea.”

—Mitt Romney, speaking to the NRA convention in St. Louis, April 13, 2012


And finally, one from today, from another politician:

“Soothing words are nice. But maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, Isn’t it tragic?...I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day. It’s just gotta stop. And instead of these two people, President Obama and Gov. Romney talking in broad things about [how] they want to make the world a better place. OK. Tell us how. And this is a problem. No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them, concretely, not just in generalities, specifically, What are they going to do about guns?” —Mike Bloomberg

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