Charlie Kirk—the founder of the conservative student advocacy group Turning Point USA—sparked outrage after he said gun deaths in the United States are necessary to preserve Second Amendment rights.
Kirk made this statement in response to the recent Nashville shooting at The Covenant Christian School, which resulted in the tragic loss of three children and three adults. The Gun Violence Archive reported this shooting was the 130th mass shooting in the United States in 2023.
During the Turning Point USA Faith event, Kirk expressed having an "armed citizenry" comes at "a cost," and he believes some gun deaths each year are "worth it" to protect the Second Amendment.
You can hear what Kirk said in the video below.
"You will never live in a society when you have an armed citizenry and you won't have a single gun death. That is nonsense. It's drivel. But I am—I think it's worth it."
"I think it's worth to have a cost of, unfortunately, some gun deaths every single year so that we can have the Second Amendment to protect our other God-given rights. That is a prudent deal. It is rational."
"Nobody talks like this. They live in a complete alternate universe."
Kirk's opinion is that some gun deaths are an acceptable "price" to maintain the freedom to bear arms.
He also proposed a few solutions to curb gun violence, including having armed guards at school buildings and "more fathers" in homes.
"Having an armed citizenry comes with a price, and that is part of liberty. Driving comes with a price—50,000, 50,000, 50,000 people die on the road every year. That's a price. You get rid of driving, you'd have 50,000 less auto fatalities."
"But we have decided that the benefit of driving—speed, accessibility, mobility, having products, services is worth the cost of 50,000 people dying on the road."
"So we need to be very clear that you're not going to get gun deaths to zero. It will not happen. You could significantly reduce them through having more fathers in the home, by having more armed guards in front of schools."
"We should have a honest and clear reductionist view of gun violence, but we should not have a utopian one."
Many criticized Kirk's remarks.
Firearm injuries have become the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, exceeding car crashes for five consecutive years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The highest single-year number of gun-related deaths on record occurred in 2021, with 48,832 deaths, an increase of 8 percent compared to 2020.
In 2020, firearm-related injuries became the primary cause of death for individuals aged 1 to 19, surpassing both traffic-related and non-traffic-related deaths, as reported by The New England Journal of Medicine.
The issue of gun control has long been a contentious topic in the United States, with divergent views on how to reduce gun violence while preserving Second Amendment rights.
In the days since the Nashville shooting, Republican figures have faced scathing criticism for their responses. For instance, one politician asked student protesters to consider what gun they're "comfortable getting shot with" while another suggested that those who don't want to deal with gun violence in schools could simply homeschool their children.