Obama: ‘At Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time’

January 28, 2013

In an interview with the New Republic published Sunday, President Obama revealed something new about himself: He enjoys going skeet shooting with visitors at his presidential retreat.

Asked by one of the magazine’s editors whether he has ever fired a gun – a query that’s often raised during debates over gun control – Obama responded, “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.”

The whole family?” New Republic editor Franklin Foer asked.

“Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there,” Obama replied. “And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake.”

During the 2008 campaign, Obama famously remarked at a closed-door San Francisco fundraiser that some Americans in small, economically depressed towns “cling to guns or religion ... as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In the interview, which comes as the White House is taking its gun reform agenda to the American public, Obama struck a different tone.

“Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas,” he said. “And if you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family's traditions, you can see why you'd be pretty protective of that.”

He added: “So it's trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months. And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes.”

Asked how often Obama goes skeet shooting, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at Monday's briefing that he wasn't certain.

“I would refer you simply to his comments. I don’t know how often. He does go to Camp David with some regularity," Carney said, adding that there likely were no pictures of it because Obama goes to the presidential retreat "to relax, not to produce photos."

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Rosalind S. Helderman | January 28, 2013