By Michael Oleaga / ( | First Posted: Jan 17, 2013 07:06 PM EST

U.S. Defence Secretary Panetta smiles after meeting Pope Benedict XVI at the end of the weekly audience in the Vatican
(Photo : Reuters)

President Barack Obama received support of his gun control legislation from the right places - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Panetta, who has been traveling across Europe, spoke to a crowd of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to say steps can be done to protect children in school without infringing on the Second Amendment "so that the nuts that are out there won't use these kinds of weapons to wipe them out."

"Who the hell needs armor-piercing bullets except you guys in battle?" Panetta told the soldiers at the U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza in northern Italy, according to the Associated Press. "For the life of me, I don't know why the hell people have to have assault weapons."

For the list of President Obama's 23 executive actions on gun control, click here.

A stop on Panetta's trip is to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

Panetta met with the Vatican City leader on Wednesday and received a blessing from the Pope.

"Thank you for helping to keep the world safe," Panetta said the Pope told him, according to The Washington Post.

Panetta replied with, "Pray for me."

This is likely Panetta's final foreign trip as defense secretary as President Obama has nominated former senator Chuck Hagel to succeed Panetta.

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