President Biden addressed Monday’s deadly school killings in Nashville, Tennessee during a visit to North Carolina on Tuesday, omitting some nuance about the Second Amendment in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The president made a planned visit to Durham, North Carolina, to discuss his economic strategy and semiconductor advancements.
But, before getting to the meat of his statement on Tuesday, the president addressed the tragedy that happened on Monday at the Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville.
Six people were murdered when 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a transgender former pupil of the school, entered the building armed with two “assault-type rifles” and a handgun and opened fire.
Metropolitan Nashville Police officers shot and killed Hale at the site after he killed three 9-year-old students and three adults. On Tuesday, Biden told a gathering in Durham that the event on Monday was their “worst nightmare.”
Biden said he lost a child in an accident and another to illness, and that nothing compares to losing a child, particularly when it is taken in a pointless and heartbreaking act.
“They should be with us … as a nation, we owe these families more than our prayers. We owe them action,” the president said. “You know, we have to do more to stop this gun violence that is ripping communities apart, ripping apart the soul of this nation. Protect our children so they learn how to read and write instead of duck and cover in a classroom.”
The president, who describes himself as a “Second Amendment guy,” said the weapons used on Monday were “weapons of war” and that the right to bear arms is not absolute.
“You’re not allowed to go out and own an automatic weapon. You’re not allowed to own a machine gun. You’re not allowed to own a flamethrower,” Biden said. “You’re not allowed to own so many other things. Why in God’s name do we allow these weapons of war on our streets and in our public schools?”
While the National Firearms Act places stringent restrictions on machine guns, it does allow for limited exclusions.
Furthermore, the legislation does not expressly prohibit the use of flamethrowers. A House measure introduced in 2019 that would have subjected flamethrowers to the same government oversight failed to pass.
Biden has previously stated that when the Second Amendment was enacted in 1791, it also prohibited the possession of cannons, but this has also been debunked. He proceeded to make assertions about firearms, particularly the deaths of children.
“This is hard to believe,” he said. “I never thought when I started my public life that guns would be the No. 1 killer of children in America. Guns. No. 1. It’s sick and overwhelming; a majority of gun owners agree we have to do something.”
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study released in 2022, guns recently surpassed motor vehicles or other accidents as the leading cause of mortality for children in the US.