Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey on Thursday argued that guns should not be regulated after the massacre that killed 12 and wounded 58 in Colorado because the suspect could have "taken a car and driven it into a school bus" -- and firearm restrictions would be like taking away football scholarships to punish a school for misconduct.
During an appearance on CNN, host Soledad O'Brien asked Armey if he agreed with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's assertion that the way to prevent future shootings like the one in Aurora was to change "the heart of the American people" instead of tighter controls on firearms.
"We've got a culture right now that seems to say, let's control the guns and have all kinds of laxities and forgiveness and understandings and so forth for the people who hold the guns," Armey said.
But O'Brien pointed out that the Aurora shooting couldn't be blamed on a laxness on criminals because the suspect had no criminal record.
"People might say that it was the easy accessibility for someone who wanted to amass, stockpile weapons over a short period of time to plot out a mass shooting and that should be blamed," the CNN host told Armey.
"If in fact he had not been capable of acquiring the guns, he might just as well taken a car and driven it into a school bus," the tea party leader replied. "You can't focus on the object by which a destruction was committed -- be it a hammer, a gun, a truck, a car. Focus on the aberrance in the individuals that do this."
"Why not do both?" O'Brien wondered.
"More people are killed in automobiles every year than they are guns," Armey insisted. "I don't hear anybody talking about banning automobiles."
"But they say you have to wear a seat belt, right?" O'Brien noted.
"Whatever," Armey quipped.
"Got to have a driver's license," a member of CNN's panel pointed out from off camera.
At that point, Armey gave up on the car metaphor and fell back to a Second Amendment argument.
"We are guaranteed by the United States Constitution a right to bear arms," he explained. "To trespass that right against those innocent people because of the aberrant behavior of others is not acceptable. It's like telling -- taking away scholarships of future football players for the bad offenses of a past football plan."
"Stay focused on the perpetrators and get tough on the perpetrators. Let people know there are awesomely difficult consequences that will come to you for your perpetration and they will perpetrate less."
According to the National Rifle Association, Colorado does not require a permit to purchase the assault-type AR-15 rifle that was used in the Aurora massacre. Rifle owners are not required to be licensed and rifles are not required to be registered in the state.