Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he doesn't understand why anyone outside the military needs assault weapons or armor-piercing bullets.
During a visit with U.S. troops in northern Italy on Thursday, Panetta defended President Barack Obama's sweeping gun control package.
A soldier asked Panetta what steps the Obama administration was going to take to deal with attacks in schools that "don't have to do with tearing apart our Second Amendment."
The Pentagon chief responded that he believes in the Second Amendment and has been a longtime duck hunter.
Panetta, who's known for his often blunt and colorful language, added that things can be done to protect children "so that the nuts that are out there won't use these kinds of weapons to wipe them out."