Biden calls on Congress to pass assault weapons ban

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden renewed his push for a federal assault weapons ban on Monday after police reported that a 28-year-old transgender woman had shot through the doors of The Covenant, a Christian elementary school in Nashville, and killed three 9-year-old children, a custodian, a teacher, and an administrator.

“I am truly without words. Our children deserve better. We stand, all of us, we stand with Nashville in prayer,” First Lady Jill Biden said during an event in Washington.

The president was at the White House when he spoke during the Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Summit in the East Room. He first turned to a group of children and said, “I came down because I heard there was chocolate chip ice cream.”

Biden wasn’t there to talk about ice cream. The three 9-year-old children killed at the school were Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney. The adults were Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school; Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; and Mike Hill, 61, a custodian.

“I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapon ban,” Biden said. “It’s about time we begin to make some progress.”

Biden has been asking Congress to reinstate the 1994 assault weapons ban, which lapsed in 2004.

“We have to do more to stop gun violence; it’s ripping our communities apart,” Biden said.

The transgender woman police identified as Audrey Hale, a former student of The Covenant, died during the shooting with police. She was armed with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, police said. Detectives believe she purchased at least two legally, according to police.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, had a question during a news conference: “How many more children have to be murdered before Republicans in Congress will step up and act to pass the assault weapons ban?”

The president also ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff until March 31.

About the Authors:

Ben Kennedy is an Emmy Award-winning Washington Bureau Chief for Local 10 News.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.