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. Larry L

    I'd like to hear a logical answer to a valid 2nd Amendment question. If Lee Oswald, sirhan sirhan, Ted Kaczynsky, Tim McVeigh, and Nidal Hasan all considered our government "oppressive" and took up arms to kill government personnel, why aren't they considered "patriots"? Wasn't that the "right" many of you claim is implied in the 2nd? Speak up!

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

    Why can't we just get rid of all guns. Hunting was required when the constitution was written, we don't need to hunt for food anymore. if we got rid of all guns there would be no gun violence. We are a modern society, it's time the right wing joined the modern world. Civilized, educated society does not have need of guns. Get an education, we have police and a military to protect citizens. Peace.

    January 27, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. GunnerV1

    don in albuquerque: And just who gets to judge who is sane , insane, responsible, normal intelligence? Some unelected, Left Wing, LooneyToone Shrink, Signed, Life Member National Rifle Association of America (NRA) since 1975, Retired, United States Navy, Chief Gunner's Mate, 1964-1986. "Come and Take Them".

    January 27, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. AJoe Leonidas

    Here's what I just cannot understand: When the President, Vice President, a Senator, a Representative, a military Officer or Enlisted Person is elected by the people or appointed by those who speak on their behalf, that person swears an oath to "support and defend the Constitution" from all enemies foreign and domestic. How is it possible to protect the Constitution while proposing legislation that runs counter to its clearly stated verbiage? How much clearer than "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" could it be? How can a ban on something not be considered an infringement? When our leaders take their oaths they are pledging to defend the entire document, not just the parts of it that suit their or their political parties agendas. We elect and appoint these people to support and defend this document and its amendments which form the framework of who we are as a country. Their job is not to defend us, not to defend our land, it is to defend that which defines America. There is a clearly defined process in place to change the Constitution (Article V). If that is what they desire then so be it. If not then the Constitution should be allowed to stand as written. I started thinking about all of this due to the argument over gun control but now I'm thinking that those in power will try to do whatever they please regardless of what our founding fathers wrote.

    January 27, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. DroneAlone

    Washington and Jefferson, in particular, were quite clear on the reasoning behind the 2nd amendment. I can understand the reasoning of the knee-jerk reaction response in the recent horrific crimes, but in the long term, the proposed cure is much worse than the disease. People who have lived gently for their entire lives don't have appreciation for the potential pitfalls if their actions. You become inclined to assume the world has changed and is a good and gentle place, and if we could just get rid of these guns... You are wrong.

    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government"

    - Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334

    "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that's good"

    - George Washington

    "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."

    - Mahatma Gandhi

    The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.

    - Hitler, April 11 1942

    I'm hoping this last quote doesn't reflect Obama's reasoning to dismantle the 2nd amendment.


    January 27, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. carlos

    No new assault laws! We don't need any more restrictions on law abiding people. How about keeping the repeat offenders off of the streets for a change and see what impact that has on violence.

    January 27, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. jake

    Wow this whole thing is stupid.

    January 27, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. ftggfh123


    Well, if you really want to word it that way, then yes, we should "punish" the majority because of the insanity of a few. Sorry, but all of the combined Rambo fantasies of every single gun lover in America aren't worth even the scraped knee of a single child, let alone his or her life.


    Did Adam Lanza have a criminal record? What about Seung-Hui Cho? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold? Somehow this "law-abiding citizen" argument you people keep throwing about just doesn't add up, especially considering that in Lanza's case, the guns were acquired (stolen) from a law-abiding citizen (his mother), and in Harris's and Klebold's cases, the guns were acquired through a straw purchase due to being underage (kinda like a 19-year old buying cigarettes for a 15-year old, except, you know, a bit worse in this case). I'll tell you what: I'll support the right of everyone to get whatever gun that is presently allowed by law, and give up any further argument for new gun control, so long as every single gun owner agrees to be charged with whatever crime their guns may be used to commit in the event the guns are lost/stolen/misplaced/etc., as though they committed the crime themselves.

    Anyways, to spoon-feed the conclusion: irresponsibility of these "law-abiding citizens" needs to be somehow dealt with. Obviously not in the hilariously unconstitutional method mentioned above, but something needs to be done. Ball's in your court, any ideas? Or are we just going to keep arguing back and forth about the small percentages of bad guys, the likelihood of a whole gaggle (like at least 30 or 40!) of minorities invading your home and thus justifying the need of high capacity magazines, and how everyone needs high-powered guns because of an imminent shredding of the Constitution by the evil Muslim "dictator-in-chief (lol)"?

    January 27, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. carlos

    hey MR blah blah, we did not disarm Iraqis, we alway left the families with their AKs since that is the main means os self defense over there. We did take the rocket launchers and heavy MGs though...

    January 27, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. kojack

    What we need is people control,not gun control. I have never seen a weapon fire without someone pulling the trigger. The weapons that they want banned are responsible for less than 1 percent of all gun related deaths. So why try to ban them? Do they look to scary to you? Let's worry about how this country is spinning g down the toilet bowl. Let's fix bigger issues. Guns or no guns,homicides are still going to occur. Unless you can eliminate that 100 percent, its all a lost cause. Ask the good folks that border Mexico if they feel safe being unarmed with thousands of illegals crossing our border. It seems OK that you sell to the Mexican drug cartels but its not OK that I try to protect my family and home with a gun of my choosing.I guess next the only thing we'll be able to have are single shots, then you will go after that.

    January 27, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Get Real About the 2nd

    The 2nd Amendment wasn't about hunting or shooting skeet.

    January 27, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Fedup1962

    The proposed Feinstein gun ban exempts government employees, and allows them to continue to buy all those guns and magazines on the ban list. O'bama and Feinstein both say nobody needs these semi-auto firearms for self defense. On the other hand, the Department of Homeland Security just ordered 7000 AR-15 rifles, and they stated that these firearms are the best weapons for self defense. Once again, elite politicians trying to control the people with laws that won't apply to them.

    January 27, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. bill

    The 2nd amendment suggests a militia – wouldn't that make military style weapons more appropriate than hunting rifles? ..and didn't all these politicians swear to defend the constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic? Either change the constitution, change the swearing in ceremony or just admit it is all a big joke.

    January 27, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. Steve

    It's not about hunting and sport shooting mr 0bama. The American people just don't trust government and will not give up their only protection.

    I love it when people say that you can't fight the US military. How did the Iraqi and Afgans do? A bunch of goat herders did a fairly good job over the last 12 years. Not because our military on not the best, but because our military is sent into war zones with one hand tied behind their backs by politicians.

    The American people want to keep our AR-15's to make sure we have the means to keep our government in line.

    I can give you 16.5 TRILLION reasons why we can't trust the USA Government. How about you, do you trust the government?

    January 27, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  15. johnnyhouse

    if it is disagreeing with Obama you can bet it will be awaiting moderation.Seems on Sunday every thing hits a nerve.

    January 27, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. Liamnc

    Exactly mec, our founding fathers where in no way thinking about "Hunting and Recreational" shooting when they wrote the second amendment. They where thinking of the peoples right to keep tyranny at bay when the government oversteps their bounds. Anybody who cant see this is being willfully ignorant.

    January 27, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. american

    as a ccw license holder i thought that protecting my fellow man / women would be the proper thing to do. but after reading all of the antigun comments on all of these posts. i'm protecting my family and myself only. btw the second amendment has been with us a long time its just fine the way it is leave it alone.

    January 27, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. ThomasamohT

    "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

    Where does it say that an individual can own military style weapons? Hint it doesn't. An individual is not a regulated militia.

    Where does it say guns can not be regulated? Hint it doesn't. It actually says the opposite. A regulated militia isn't limited to the people in it but also the weapons and methods they use.

    Do not worry you will still be allowed to own guns. There will only be limits on the kinds of guns and how they are sold.

    January 27, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Christopher J Hoffman

    If there is an anti-tyranny and self defense purpose to the 2nd amendment (and the Supreme Court and several other federal courts have clearly said that there is), then legislation reducing the capability and performance characteristics of the most common, semi–automatic small arms would eviscerate the amendment of its core purpose.

    The Second Amendment's very function is to put law abiding citizens on at least equal footing with criminals and would-be tyrants. Anything less than equal footing for the citizen guts the amendment of that function and renders it null.

    The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that long-standing laws banning firearms ownership for felons, mentally ill, and drug addicts are not in question. Many other regulations will certainly pass constitutional muster.

    But there is a cavernous difference between regulations (such as requiring training, safe storage, background checks, maintaining proficiency, etc) and banning or neutering an entire class of common, garden variety semi-automatic firearms (now disparagingly called assault weapons).

    All firearms, self evidently, are lethal weapons. The performance characteristics of all semi-automatic firearms have not changed in 100 years. The idea that a semi-automatic-only, civilian AR15 is some kind of exotic, unusual weapon is completely false. AR15-pattern rifles, by a wide margin, are the most common long arm chosen by Americans, for every conceivable lawful purpose for which a firearm can be used.

    The 2nd amendment specifically protects keeping and bearing lethal weapons that are in common use. (See US Supreme Court Heller vs DC, 2008, and McDonald vs Chicago 2010, Us vs Miller 1939.)

    If we dare to repeal the amendment, then there is a constitutional procedure in place to accomplish that. But we simply cannot pretend the amendment doesn't mean what it says without structurally undermining the whole document. If we can turn a blind eye to one fundamental, enumerated, and incorporated civil right, then no other civil right will ever be immune to the whims of the legislature.

    January 27, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Common Sense

    It is only through sheer stupidity that one can reason gun laws having any effect on those who disregard every other law as it is. Last year in the US there were less than 300 homicides caused by rifles of any sort in the entire country. Yet this administration, in its infinite wisdom, deems the assault rifle as public enemy number one.

    Never mind this administration provided actual military full automatic assault weapons to the Mexican drug cartels free of charge which were used to kill a US Border Agent. It is the law abiding citizen in Nebraska who owns a semi-automatic AR-15 is the real threat to the public at large.

    Never mind there were more Americans killed by gang related gunfire in Obama's home town of Chicago in 2012 than in all of Afghanistan that same year. it is the farmer in Galesburg Illinois who has a 7 shot clip on his revolver who needs to be put under the foot of the law.

    This is just insane.

    January 27, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. U dont get it people

    The second amendment has NOTHING to do with hunting. It’s all about protecting ourselves from tyrannical governments foreign OR domestic. You Mr. Obama need to read the constitution. Or is it he thinks we are all ignorant? Stay tuned my friends. Tyranny is alive and well.

    January 27, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  22. Red Dog

    It's nice that the President enjoys shooting skeet, but once again please allow me to say: THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS NOT ABOUT SHOOTING SKEET (or HUNTING)! Okay, Mr. President?

    January 27, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Common Sense

    I would be willing, very willing, to defend my Constitutional rights with my life as our forefathers have done before me. Are you willing to deny my Constitutional rights with your life? This is what it may come down to.

    January 27, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. TonyC

    Obama fails to understand or chooses to ignore the fact that the 2n Amendment is not about the right to hunt. The 2nd Amendment is about the right of Americans to defend themselves against tyranny.

    January 27, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  25. frunk

    Prohibition did nt work. the War on drugs did not work. And the war on guns will have a worse result.

    January 27, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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