President Joe Biden responded to Monday’s fatal school shootings in Nashville, Tennessee, during a stop in North Carolina on Tuesday, spreading misinformation about the Second Amendment in the wake of tragedy.
The president made a scheduled stop in Durham, North Carolina, to speak about his economic agenda and the advancement of semiconductors.
But before he got to the meat of his speech Tuesday, the president addressed the tragedy that occurred at a private Christian school in Nashville, the Covenant School, on Monday.
Six victims were shot and killed when 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a transgender woman and former student of the school, entered the building with two ‘assault-type rifles’ and a handgun before opening fire.
After killing three 9-year-old students and three adults, Metropolitan Nashville Police officers killed Hale at the scene.
Biden told the crowd in Durham on Tuesday that Monday’s incident was the families’ ‘worst nightmare.’
Biden said he lost a child to an accident and another to cancer, noting that there was nothing like losing a child, especially when taken in a senseless 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 covering 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?’
In the U.S., it is not illegal to own a flamethrower nor is it illegal to own a machine gun.
To own a machine gun, or fully automatic weapon, a person must not be considered a ‘prohibited person,’ must be at least 21 years old, a legal resident of the U.S., eligible to purchase a firearm, pass an 8-10-month background check and pay a one-time $200 transfer tax to obtain a stamp.
Biden has previously said that the Second Amendment also banned the ownership of cannons when it was passed in 1791, but that, too, has been debunked.
He continued making claims about firearms, especially when it comes to the death 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.’
Based on the latest available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms are not the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 17 – motor vehicles are.
Firearm deaths listed under the CDC’s data category ‘Unintentional Injury,’ shows that out of 4,552 deaths of children between the ages of 1 and 17, motor vehicles accounted for 2,159 of those deaths. Drownings accounted for 753, poisoning accounted for 502, suffocation accounted for 212, fires accounted for 204, transport accounted for 152 and firearms accounted for 120.
Under the ‘Homicide’ category, firearms accounted for 1,366 deaths, and when added up with firearm deaths considered unintentional, the total number of deaths by firearm for children between 1 and 17 years of age is 1,518 – 641 less than motor vehicle deaths of the same age bracket.
The most up to date and available data is from 2020 and can be found on the CDC’s website.