CBS News published an article on its website Wednesday afternoon with the misleading headline "Romney claims many Aurora weapons were illegal."
This makes it sound as if Romney is keeping up with the news, since the
guns used by shooter James Holmes were purchased legally. But a review
of the comment in question shows that CBS's headline is misleading and
Romney appeared on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Wednesday.
During the interview Williams raised the issue of gun control in light
of the Aurora, Colorado shooting. Williams suggested "perhaps they [the
American people] want to start a conversation" on the issue. Romney responded by saying "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
Romney is saying two things here. One, that James Holmes shouldn't
have had weapons and bombs. That's a sentiment that everyone can agree
with, though in this case Romney doesn't specify a legal mechanism for
keeping weapons out of the hands of Holmes or anyone else with
undiagnosed mental illness.
The second thing Romney is saying is that many of the items Homes had
in his possession were already illegal. The CBS News article backs this
up, albeit in a fairly circumspect way, saying "The bombs and other explosive devices set as booby traps in alleged
shooter James Holmes' apartment appear not to have been legal." What an odd way to say Holmes' homemade bombs were illegal.
Getting back to that misleading headline, Romney never said James
Holmes' weapons were illegal. He said "it was illegal for him to have many of those things."
By leaving out the mention of "bombs and other devices" in the
headline, CBS makes it sound as if Romney isn't aware the guns used in
the shooting were purchased legally.
CBS News seems to be trying to bypass policy arguments about gun
control and instead portray Romney's statement as a factual gaffe. That's simply not supported by the facts. Given that Romney's actual meaning is not that hard to parse, CBS' headline appears to be intentionally misleading.