President Biden was criticized for his response to the Nashville school shooting after he joked Monday that he only made an appearance in public because he heard there would be ice cream before he discussed the tragedy that claimed the lives of three children and three adults at an elementary school earlier in the day.
“My name is Joe Biden. I’m Dr. Jill Biden’s husband,” quipped Biden from the White House’s East room in his first appearance after a 28-year-old trans woman shot and killed three teachers and three students at a private Christian school in Nashville. “I eat Jeni’s ice cream — chocolate chip. I came down because I heard there was chocolate chip ice cream,” he continued. “By the way, I have a whole refrigerator full upstairs,” added Biden. “You think I’m kidding? I’m not,” the President told the crowd.
The President later called the shooting “heartbreaking” and “sick” while demanding Congress do more to “stop the gun violence.” However, critics pounced on the President for the inappropriate reaction and playful tone while addressing the tragedy.
“To say that he misunderstood the moment would be an understatement,” said former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie. “You know, the President is watching, you’d hope before he comes down there, the awful scenes from the shooting and the reactions of family members and friends of people in that school. And to be coming down, joking about the fact that he’s Jill Biden’s husband and looking for chocolate chip ice cream is hardly the way to start it,” said Christie.
“There’s no way to talk about something like this except to say that for all of us who are parents, what we dread every day is the news about the health and life of our children,” added Christie. “And so, there’s no room to joke in that circumstance at all. And certainly not from the President of the United States.”
Authorities say a female shooter with a pistol and two “assault-style” rifles killed three teachers and three students at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian school of about 200 students from preschool through sixth grade. Police said the shooter was once a student at the school. Later, the shooter was identified as a Nashville resident who identified as transgender, Audrey Elizabeth Hale. Hale was killed after being shot by police after the violence.
The President said he hopes the tragedy will inspire Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons similar to the ban he helped pass in 1994. The 1994 law enacted a 10-year ban on transferring, possessing, or manufacturing “semiautomatic assault weapons” and “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.” The legislation formally expired on September 13, 2004.
Former Gov. Christie: Biden committed the “second-worst thing to do” in his response to the shooting
Former Gov. Christie committed the “second-worst thing to do” in a situation like this by playing the political car while students and parents across the country cope with the impact of the devastating shooting.
“It’s not about playing politics,” said Christie. “The second-worst thing to do after making a joke on a day like today is to play politics with it. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the President did. He went back to the old playbook.”
Christie is considering launching a 2024 Republican presidential bid and invoked his seven-year career as a prosecutor to dismantle the President’s call for a ban on assault weapons, saying, “There’s no lack of laws on the books to help us deal with gun violence.”
“We need to enforce those laws strictly,” said Christie. “We need to look at school safety. And dealing much more aggressively with having people at schools who can protect the children and the teachers and administrators who were at those schools.”
“Last but not least, we have to continue to look at the mental health problems in this country,” continued the former governor. “We continue to…stigmatize them in a way that makes people not want to come forward when they have the mental issues. We need to have a welcoming circumstance for people to come forward and to be treated. We don’t know the exact circumstances of this woman today that did this, but I’m willing to guarantee you, this is a woman who had some serious mental health issues,” said Christie.
“Nobody in their right mind goes into that school and kills three young children and three adults helping to teach those children.”