January 27th, 2013
09:44 AM ET
10 years ago

Gun owners won't be forgotten in debate, Obama says

Washington (CNN) – His upcoming legislative push for tighter restrictions on firearms won't ignore the concerns of gun owners, President Barack Obama said in a wide-ranging interview published Sunday.

He pointed specifically to America's hunting and shooting tradition, which he said was also part of the tradition at Camp David, Maryland, the presidential retreat.

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"Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," Obama said in the interview with The New Republic. He was responding to a question about whether he had ever fired a gun.

While his teenage daughters haven't partaken in skeet shooting - a sport where participants fire shotguns to break airborne clay disks - he has brought guests with him, he said in the interview.

"I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations," he said. "And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake."

A week and a half ago, Obama announced 23 executive actions - which don't require congressional approval - to strengthen existing gun laws and take related steps on mental health and school safety.

He also called on Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds, and to expand background checks to include anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or gun show.

The moves came in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 27 people dead, including 20 children.

As part of the lead-up to Obama's gun control package, Vice President Joe Biden met with groups with a stake in the debate, including gun owner groups and organizations representing gun manufacturers.

That openness to hearing gun owners' points of view must continue as the debate moves to Congress, Obama said.

"So much of the challenge that we have in our politics right now is that people feel as if the game here in Washington is completely detached from their day-to-day realities. And that's not an unjustifiable view," he said.

But in his interview, Obama also suggested the reverse was true - that some gun owners were deaf to the arguments coming from advocates of tighter restrictions on firearms.

"Advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes," he said.

Upcoming legislative battles, from gun control to increasing the federal debt ceiling, will be complicated if lawmakers are cowed by voices in the right-wing media, Obama argued.

"One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it," he predicted.

Filed under: Gun rights • President Obama
soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. sqeptiq

    The only people who "need" more than a 10 round clip are those fanatics who nourish a secret (or not so secret) infantile fantasy of fighting a war against our government. Though most of us recognize that our government, like most huge enterprises, is far from perfect, we still want to remain the UNITED States.

    January 27, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. rs


    Please explain how the 98% of "good" gun owners are being punished. If they really, really want military-style weapons they can still join the National Guard, i.e the "well regulated militia".

    January 27, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. rs

    You should study up on the Cold War- who went bankrupt buying and building ever bigger weapons. If we all engage in a personal arms race (as you apparently endorse), we'll all wind up broke and shot.

    January 27, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Stephen in VA

    Oh, right, laws are punishments. The speed limit is a punishment to me for someone else driving too fast, right? What a silly way to think about legal protections of citizens.

    Look, on this matter, "Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited," Scalia cautioned in his opinion. "From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. ... For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues." – that's Justice Scalia, one of the most right wing judges ever.

    January 27, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Karen Tully Thomson

    "'One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it,' he predicted." And if a democratic member of Congress is not punished on MSNBC, CNN or other liberal leaning media outlet, or rachel maddow, chris matthews, for working with a Republican on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it.

    January 27, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    President Obama first needs to remind the Republicans "the election is over, he's the President for 4 more years" because they still don't get it.

    January 27, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Al

    Obama is grandstanding against the GOP trying to paint them as unwilling to work with him? Funny how he hasn't said a word about the fact that his Senate dems are against it also!!!!!!! To the point that it won't pass the Senate. More usless time spent on something to distract the American people from the hard problems....NO JOBS......HIGH TAXES.....the list goes on and on. The president of 50%

    January 27, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Anon

    It is not about hunting and he knows it. It is about control. Plain and simple. Quit buying his lies.

    January 27, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Al

    Obama is as worthless as Carter was.

    January 27, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. You Heard it worst on CNN

    Obama can pass all the gun restrictions he wants, it will only make criminals out of normal law abiding citizens. I for one won't comply. I don't even recognize this idiot as president. So sign away Mr. Obama the only people who will listen to you are the Ozombies who think you are some sort of god. My guns are staying right where I put them and if you send some federal agents to collect them you will get a lesson in the second amendment.

    January 27, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Dma

    Cant wait until the Govt tries and limits the amount of texts or minutes one can have on their cell phones. All in the name of saving lives. Just because a small percentage text and drives. All you anti-gun people would start crying then. I can hear it now "Only a few people text and drive, leave my minutes alone!" The 2nd amendment says nothing about shooting skeet or hunting, it is the right to own a firearm. The president boasts support for his gun control among the people, but the liberal Senators up for the mid-term election are even too scared to discuss banning semi-auto rifles, and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds (right Franken???). Then the NRA's membership has increased dramatically the past few months. I don't see the overwhelming support? Why is the President so bent on taking away the AR style guns from the American citizens, when his administration has given the Mexican drug Cartel the same type of weapons? Seems like our Gov't is supplying the bad guys with the guns, and taking away from the responsible citizen. Keep giving speeches about gun control while using children as pawns Mr. President, it worked for Hitler, it might just work for you! (And yes, Hitler gave speeches about gun control while being surrounded by children too. This is a fact, not a conspiracy!)

    January 27, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Michael

    The 2nd amendment is not about sport or hunting. He tries to get that to pacify everyone. He says it is a tradition, not a constitutional right. BIG DIFFERENCE.

    January 27, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. rs

    Rick McDaniel
    That would be a lie.

    Obama has every intention of trampling on our Constitutional rights, as Americans, because he does NOT believe in America. He is a socialist, and re-distributionist, who wants to rob the rich to give to the poor, so they can do NOTHING!

    Like Lincoln, he would murder tens of thousands, to force his way on America, as h is clearly demonstrating with his attacks on State's rights.........it is 1860, all over again!
    Unfortunately for your "argument" Lincoln was the first modern Republican, and it is the gun crowd doing the murdering. Your tin-foil hat is cocked a little too far to the right.

    January 27, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I think most people from the NRA think that they are entitled to use anti ballistic missiles and drones to protect themselves from the deer and wild turkeys.

    January 27, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. Drew

    We have a history in this nation of limiting the unfettered rights of the few to ensure the protections of the many, from speed limits, to fireworks possession, to swimming regulations. Sorry if the most ardent gun-rights supporters see it as punishment, but there are many such "punishments" that protect the majority.

    In addition, the 2nd Amendment was NOT ordained by God, it was written by men, human beings, who claimed they spoke for God in it's writing. Well, pardon, but no matter their intentions, they did not speak for God, they spoke for themselves as legislators.

    January 27, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Martyr

    Better a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent be imprisoned

    Liberals use the above statement to rally against the death penalty. Yet they have no problem punishing MILLIONS of gun owners for the actions of a FEW

    It's hard to argue against a mindset that believes DEATH ROW INMATES are better than GUN OWNERS

    January 27, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. Martyr

    UN report proves America does NOT HAVE A GUN PROBLEM

    Americans gun and non-gun owners are actually good people despite what our media and the rest of the world would have you believe.

    UNESCO the UN data gathering group post yearly gun violence scores for each and every UN member country, and some interesting facts that the media has not reported can easily be looked up.

    If you discount gang violence in the United States it turns out that our gun owners are an incredibly safe and kind people, and our "gang free" gun violence scores put us in the same territory as Sweden and the U.K.

    The U.S. ranks #1 in private gun ownership, yet even with all the gang violence inflating our stats we still only rank 26th in the world for gun violence. I bet that comes as a shock to most readers due to the constant hype of gun violence in the media. Without gangs inflating our stats we rank a lowly 153 out of 193 U.N. countries.

    While the U.N. does not like the fact we allow private gun ownership, their own research supports the fact that America does not have a gun problem and that U.S. gun owners are safe, respectful, and not the nuts the media would have you believe.

    But where does that leave us? Number one we have to face the fact we are to blame for most of the issues we face. How long have we let politicians turn us against one another over abortion, gun rights, or gay marriage while they get away with ignoring the abject poverty they've cause in our inner cities.

    Rampant poverty, Inner city blight and failing school systems all fall squarely at the feet of your elected officials, who are more than happy to let you fight amongst yourselves as long as they avoid being held accountable.

    While Sandy Hook and Aurora Colorado create a media storm causing us to focus our attention on mental health, gun control, and other issues. We need to address our societal and leadership shortfalls on a daily basis and not wait for the system to fail.

    We the American people have become so self involved over little issues that divide us that we hardly notice the suffering around us. So much so that media groups rarely even bother to report it, lets look at what happens in a typical average day in the U.S.

    Every single day 180 children go missing in our country.
    Every single day 250 females are raped in our country.
    Every single day 27 people are killed in gang violence.

    The U.N. report clearly shows that guns are not a problem in the U.S. but we still choose them as the bogey man in the argument as it's far easier than addressing poverty, failing schools and a corrupt government.

    If you like this article then please forward it, as I found it enlightening that America is not the rampant cesspool the media describes and that the American people statistically rank quite well against the rest of the world.

    But on the other hand feeling good about yourself doesn't mean you get to slack off and let your elected officials ignore the real issues in this country.

    January 27, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. aertzc

    I hate to be pessimistic, but this strikes me as another convenient story from Obama. Similar to his sudden, dramatic reversal on gay marriage.

    January 27, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Dma

    @time for change
    what change are you talking about? These strict gun regulations are already in the works. Look at Chicago, oh yeah 5 shot dead yesterday alone. And your suggesting the whole country be regulated the same? And applying those regulations while ignoring the foundations of our freedoms in this country. The constitution may only be a piece of paper to you, but I gave several years of my life to defend that piece of paper, so that others could not come in and destroy our freedoms (foreign or domestic). Can't wait for cell phones to be banned for causing cancer, all of you will be crying then. Cancer kills more people a year than guns do!

    January 27, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. abnguy

    It is clear in the founding fathers writings that the Second Amendment was intended to keep the whole of the people armed. Even if yo set that aside I think we should err on the side of freedom and stop making all these excutive orders and new laws banning items for most of the people not responsible for these crimes. Lets have the focus on the social issues that are to blame.

    January 27, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. madnessofjack

    ""One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it," he predicted."
    This "anti-gun reaction" across the media, political and cultural spectrum has the all same earmarks of a Demokratic "Blitz" campaign.
    Remember the uproar against Rush Limbaugh with his Sandra Fluke comments??? MediaMatters admitted they orchestrated that "campaign".

    Someone had this "Blitz" "on the shelf" and ready for a broad spectrum push to get a "desired" outcome.......this required MSM coordination, logistics, preplanned "hysteria"...including bloggers from groups like CredoAction or ColorofChange or ProgressivePatriot, et al....the only thing missing was an "event" to trigger it.

    CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS..et.al....all played their parts in this...there wasnt an ounce of "journalism" here.
    It was all about a "message" they calculated to push "public opinion" towards, using their "credentials".
    They peddled this propaganda as "outrage".

    This is what the Old Media "Journalism" is today.....a ideological political tool to be used by a like minded political class to prod the "public" to accept a political goal.

    January 27, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. Jim Carlin

    The United States Constitution includes a Bill of Rights designed to protect individual rights of the people and to specifically limit the power of government. The 1st Amendment protects our individual right to free speech, the 4th Amendment protects our right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, the 5th Amendment protects individuals from being forced to incriminate themselves by torture. The 2nd Amendment is an individual right to keep and bear arms. "The powers of the sword are in the hands of the people...to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of Liberty'". Americans will have to use our 1st Amendment right to protect the 2nd Amendment. The American Bar Association, the ACLU, and even the Supreme Court have assumed restrictive attitudes toward American's individual constitutional rights to life, liberty, and personal security. The 2nd Amendment is not about skeet shooting.

    January 27, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Steve

    Here's the bottom line: The 2nd amendment was not written so we the people could shoot clay targets. The second amendment was written for Americans to own firearms to protect themselves from anyone bent on doing them harm. Whether that be a small group or a government. If you don't like that then change the constitution. Get over it!

    January 27, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Valerie McClure

    In response to TiME FOR A CHANGE...IF it was possible to keep guns out of the hands of criminals with enacting laws then why are there so many crimes in England where citizens are not allowed guns? The crime rate as RISEN DRAMATICALLY in Australia since the buy back of guns and new laws outlawing the possession of guns. The whole incident that started this was when an UNBALANCED YOUTH used his mother's lawfully gained possessions to murder. Might it not help if there were better treatments or help for the INSANE or the family of these people that know there is a problem? Guns can't fire unless there is a person pulling the trigger!

    January 27, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Assault weapons are just a term used to make these particular guns sound bad. It boils down to a lot of Americans placing blame on inanimate objects to make them feel better about the lack of morality and family values that are currently being taught in our country. It equates to blaming the car when a drunk driver wrecks and kills someone.The "Assault" weapons are no different than the Corvettes and Lamborghini's in the realm of cars; they are upper end models that look better, drive better, and go faster. Placing blame on inanimate objects will never correct the immoral issues we have, it will only lead to blaming a different inanimate object the next time. Maybe I'll blame my keyboard for carpel tunnel, or Coca-Cola for being fat, or my pancake for making my plate dirty.

    January 27, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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