Raleigh-Durham International Airport
Durham, North Carolina
4:13 P.M. EDT
Q Mr. President, come talk to us about guns.
Q Mr. President, have you spoken to any of the families of those who lost loved ones in Nashville?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m working on that now.
Q Have you spoken to the police chief, sir? Can you tell us about those conversations?
THE PRESIDENT: I spoke to the police chief. I spoke to the two officers that went in and saved the lives. I’ve spoken to everyone but the families, and I haven’t done that yet.
Q Can we ask about Israel? How concerned are you about the health of democracy there in Israel?
THE PRESIDENT: Like many strong supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned. And I’m concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road.
And I’ve sort of made that clear. I — hopeful — hopefully, the prime minister will act in a way that he is going to try to work out some genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen.
Q Are you inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, sir? Do you believe he’ll be coming to Washington?
THE PRESIDENT: Not — not in the near term.
Q Did you speak to him on the phone? Did you speak to him on the phone in the middle of all this?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I — I did not. I delivered a message through our ambassador.
Q Will you meet with Speaker McCarthy on the bu- — will you speak — meet with Speaker McCarthy if he doesn’t put a budget out?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know what we’re going to meet on. But I’m —
Q He outlined some points today.
THE PRESIDENT: The deal was we each put down our budget.
Q On the banking crisis, are you — what is your thought about how much you can get accomplished in terms of regulatory reform in Congress? And how much can you do executively through power?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we’ve done what we need to do executively. I feel confident things are settling out. The — the markets seem to be responding. And so —
But I’m not sure whether we get much legislative change. But we’re looking at that as well.
Q Northern Ireland — a question on Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has increased its terrorism threat level to “severe.” How concerned are you about that? And will it impact your plans to visit?
THE PRESIDENT: No, they can’t keep me out.
Q You mentioned in Canada last week that you were concerned about a further deterioration, indicating what would happen with diaspora throughout the hemisphere. What is your specific concern? What are you afraid is going to happen?
THE PRESIDENT: Loss of life among people who are being negatively impacted by the gangs, number one.
Number two, people get hurt in mass migrations. And I worry about that as well.
Q Mr. President, can you tell us anything more about your conversation with Senator Hagerty, when it comes to any action potentially on gun violence prevention legislation?
THE PRESIDENT: There’s nothing really to tell. I expressed my concern and asked if there was anything I could do to be of help.
And I understand from — from some folks he’s a fairly reasonable guy, and I hope something comes of it.
Q On banking then — just to go back to banking, you don’t anticipate doing anything more, sort of, unilaterally from the executive side of things?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s not over yet. We’re watching it very closely. I think my team has handled it very well so far. And rather than get ahead of myself here, I think let’s let things move the way they are.
Q On the gun — on the gun issue, Mr. President, you’ve continued to call for an assault weapon ban. It’s — it’s —
THE PRESIDENT: It’s called exposure. Exposure.
You know, when people say, “Why do you keep doing it? It’s not going to happen.” Expose those people who refuse to do something. So, I’m going to keep calling it out, remind people that they’re not acting. They should act.
I mean, think about this. I mean, you know, people are beginning to see — they have on television now these emergency room doctors showing what happens when a bullet enters a body when it’s from a revolver or from another gun. It goes in a straight line and goes out.
But what happens now with that assault weapon — with a AR-15 — it goes in the body and it explodes in the body, and it goes in at a significantly higher speed.
So, in every way, it’s just — I mean, as I said when I got the first bill passed, I confronted some hunters and fishermen in Delaware when I was walking through the areas in southern Delaware, pushing this. And I said, “How many deer are wearing a Kevlar vest, you know?”
I mean, really — I mean, just think about it. You can’t own a machine gun. Well, the idea you can’t lock this up? Give me a break. You can’t own a bazooka. You can’t —
I mean, it just — I mean, there’s nothing absolute about any amendment. And this is ridiculous.
And it’s all about money — big, big, big money.
Q Are you planning to visit Nashville, sir, in the aftermath of this tragedy?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s underway now. We’re trying to figure that out — is what helps the most.
Q And are you planning to visit Mississippi, sir, in the — for the tornado aftermath?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q On the banking thing, does it — does it change your thinking about who needs to go into that vice chair job at the Fed?
You know, Sarah Bloom Raskin and Saule Omarova had to withdraw their nominations. They were tough on regulation. Is this job even more important — the vice chair nomination — now?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s been important from the beginning. That’s why I appointed them — or tried to appoint them.
Q But for the vice chair — for the Fed — to replace —
THE PRESIDENT: We’re talking about it. No, I know.
And — but that’s underway right now.
Guys, we got to get going.
Q On Israel, just one follow. On those who say that America shouldn’t be involved in domestic politics and shouldn’t be interfering, how do you respond to that with —
THE PRESIDENT: We don’t want to interfere. It’s a little bit like if all the things — things are exploding in America.
What do you think would happen if, all of a sudden — well, I know — I’m not going to even speculate.
Anyway, we’re not interfering. They know my position. They know America’s position. They know the American Jewish position, the Amer- — anyway.
Q Do you believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to go ahead with the judicial overhaul?
AIDE: Thank you.
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
4:19 P.M. EDT