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. Owl Creek Observer

    Mr. Obama either doesn't know (or doesn't care) that there are two widely differing views on guns in this country that have nothing whatever to do with political grandstanding. For the most part, those who live in major cities don't understand the need (or right) to own guns. Those of us who live outside the cities have the opposite view. Living here in flyover country, most of my friends - both Republican and Democrat - are gun owners and are in no mood for some clueless senator from San Francisco or an even more clueless president from Chicago telling them that they have no right to own whatever tools they feel they need to protect themselves and their families. If Ms. Feinstein or Mr. Obama attempt to disarm these folks, I believe the future of this nation will be put at grave risk. This is not a philosophical discussion in the professor's lounge at some ivy league school, Mr. President.

    January 27, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Michael P

    Every new gun control law for decades has had same effect. They disarm the honest citizen and embolden the criminal. When you take away guns you only take the ones from law abiding folks. The problem is not the tool it’s the fool.

    January 27, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. Owl Creek Observer

    The slang meaning of "skeet shooting" is the act of blowing one's nose by pinching one nostril and using no tissue or handkerchief."

    Perhaps that's what President Obama was referring to.

    January 27, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. joeinalabama

    Show me a picture of B0 with a gun in his hands.

    January 27, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. selendis

    I am still a bit confused by all the presidential blame. Every news outlet, even the nra want's you watching the president. yet, he clearly passed the buck to congress. what he may or may not want was moot. and the feinstein, who wants to push a bill that she knows will not pass. clearly, politicians are hoping the american public does not see through their dog and pony show. if you wanted real change, you would start with something that had a hope of passing. and again, the american people are divided. just ridiculous.

    January 27, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Nimrod

    ThomasamohT, I would really suggest that you read Justice Scalia's majority opinion in "District of Columbia vs Heller". Read the ENTIRE opinion. Scalia gives a very scholarly presentation of the history of the second amendment. Very good explanation of the term militia as used in the second amendment and the historical development of the right to self defense and why the founders may have held the insurrectionist's view of gun ownership. Might open your eyes a bit.

    January 27, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Coltdefender45

    For those that think the second Amendment is ONLY for militias:

    First let me provide a lesson in punctuation:

    A punctuation mark ( , ) used to indicate a separation of ideas or of elements within the structure of a sentence.

    Let's examine the second amendment:

    "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

    Let's break it down.

    The American people have a collective right to protect themselves against the evil of standing armies by forming a general militia composed of all the people:

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free

    And they said American citizens have an individual and inviolable right to arm themselves to protect their lives and property:

    ...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be

    David Hardy, another constitutional scholar and Arizona attorney, says the framers of the Constitution had both individual rights and citizen militias in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment.

    “The First Congress and James Madison tended to shoehorn [squeeze in] a number of different guarantees into each amendment to the Constitution,” says Hardy. “The First Amendment alone protects freedom of speech, press, religious operations, freedom from the establishment of religion, freedom of assembly and of petition of the legislature. They were packing them together.
    The Second Amendment was two entirely separate clauses that were added together to serve two different purposes.”

    January 27, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Chris

    I don't think the founding fathers were that worried about Americans having to fight the United States Government. The purpose was reserves, Militias that could be called up to fight in the event of an invasion. (as happened in the war of 1812)

    Little known fact: The states DID keep a register of who owned a gun. In the even of a shooting, the police COULD go to your house and inspect your gun to see if it had been fired recently. And any man of fighting age who didn't report to muster when the militia was called up, would be treated as a deserter and whipped and sent to the stockade.

    (Not to say I'm not a gun owner and wouldn't hesitate to use my MULTIPLE AR-15's to defend this country if someone was dumb enough to invade and lucky enough to get past the best Military in the world!)

    January 27, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Coltdefender45

    For those who believe that the 2nd Amendment is restricted to muskets:

    Gun control supporters argue that the Founding Fathers could not have
    envisioned semi-automatic firearms, and thus the Second Amendment
    protects the right to own only 18th century firearms such as muskets. However, the Supreme Court of the United States dismissed that notion in District of Columbia v. Heller
    (2008), saying: “some have made the argument, bordering on the
    frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are
    protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional
    rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of
    communication and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of
    search, the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments
    that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at
    the time of the founding.”22 The court also declared that the
    Second Amendment guarantees “the individual right to possess and carry
    weapons in case of confrontation,” and that a handgun ban was
    unconstitutional in part because “handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home.” (Emphasis added.)

    January 27, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. BeReasonable


    Did any of you supporting the assault weapons ban bill even _read_ the summary?? It's going to ban silly features like weapons with: collapsible stocks, pistol grip triggers, bayonet mounts, grenade launcher mounts, hand grips, flash suppressors and the like... Do you think that if Adam Lanza had a semiautomatic rifle without those assault weapon features that somehow in those ten plus minutes he would have killed less people? This bill punishes the 3 million people that have already bought these weapons, by preventing their sale or transfer to their children and family; briefly challenge the gun industry to design new semiautomatic models that are legal, and simply causes more law-abiding citizens to buy even _more_ weapons. The folly of the right to keep the status quo is countered by the folly of the left to come up with ridiculous and worthless legislation.

    Stop banning and regulating the guns. Trash the 20000 laws already in the book that no law-enforcement has the hope of enforcing. Instead, license the gun owners in the same way concealed carry is licensed, and we'd do a lot more good.

    January 27, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. Steel

    So the gun owners aren't going to be forgotten in the gun debate but yet the President has already concluded the "gun debate" and signed into law or pushed for laws that will infringe on gun owners rights to bare arms. Then, he goes on to say that gun owners don't want to hear what is being said. So if I am following this correctly he ignored what gun owners were saying, pushed his agenda down their throats, and then blamed the gun owners on not wanting to hear what other people are saying. This is a complete joke and anyone that claims otherwise is either blind, dumb, or full of it. By the way Mr President it's not hunting that gun owners are upset about. It's the fact that you are limiting their rights under the Constitution. You know the same document you swore to protect?

    January 27, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Alex

    For everyone stating that an individual doesn't have the right to bear arms, two pieces of history to disprove you. First, in every single instance in the Constitution, the phrase, "the people," referred to an individual right. The Second Amendment, just like the first protects multiple rights, in this case two. The right to form a well regulated militia, and the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms are two separate right. Additionally, when describing the militia, the founders described the militia as, "the whole the people."

    January 27, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. D.P.

    The majority of American people want more gun reforms and safety.

    January 27, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Dean

    Gun restrictions....Talk to me about gun restrictions when you can keep drugs(totally illegal) out of federal prisons where prisoners are under government watch 24 hours a day.............

    January 27, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Dean


    I don't think the founding fathers were that worried about Americans having to fight the United States Government. The purpose was reserves, Militias that could be called up to fight in the event of an invasion.
    Sorry----------but the 2nd amendment was for enabling the people to organize a militia system.
    participating in law enforcement;
    deterring tyrannical government;
    repelling invasion;
    suppressing insurrection, allegedly including slave revolts;
    facilitating a natural right of self-defense;

    January 27, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Nimrod

    Chris, if you would take the time to 1. read Scalia's historical perspective of how the founders likely viewed the potential for a Tyrannical state (part of the DC v Heller decision), and then 2. read some of the writings of some of the founders concerning the 2nd amendment and gun ownership in general, you might change your mind.

    January 27, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. Walt M

    Jesus. Here we go with the Founding Fathers wouldn't support gun control. Why then did they implement laws which not only tracked who owned guns but also restricted gun ownership for certain people living in America? Sorry to rain on your parade but that is the truth however inconvenient it may be for your point of vies.

    January 27, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  18. Joe B

    The Second Amendment isn't about hunting. It's about having an armed populous for defense against tyranny, invasion and crime. The US Military is the most powerful in the world but like any other military it's not invincible. The Viet Cong used a wide assortment of unconventional tactics to thwart our military. The powerful Soviet military was defeated by a bunch of rag tag Afghans with stinger missles. Do you really think that either of them could have accomplished that without the use of basic small arms?

    Stop the ridiculous and futile efforts to invalidate the Second Amendment simply because you hate guns.

    January 27, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. Tom

    Criminals don't buy new guns and register them – they buy guns that aren't registered. Criminals buy ammo clips that hold 30 rounds – a 10 round clip law won't change that. The only people that will be affected by ANY LAW are law abiding citizens. Criminals will ALWAYS have illegal weapons. You can't make laws that CRIMINALS abide by.
    If you really want to change criminal behavior, you need to enforce laws that are already on the books. Just for a major example: Criminals who are on death row for 50 years are LONG OVERDUE to die by execution, not old age!
    Gun laws do not need to be changed – existing laws need to be enforced.

    January 27, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Cogito

    In addition to what Nimrod said, the phrase "well-regulated" does not mean that the government has the authority to regulate the militia. "Well-regulated" means "properly-functioning..." as in "a properly-functioning militia."

    January 27, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. Mark Hudson

    Yeah...right. Skeet shooting. Why no pictures?

    January 27, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. frontgate

    A lot of folks here sound like traitors to the U.S. Those who don't trust or like the U.S. govt should leave, get out, go somewhere else. It's the only solution. Please leave.

    January 27, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. wrm

    "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,"

    So, what you are saying is that people who are either very skeptical or oppose what you say have been programmed or are unduly influenced by external factors. Way to kick off a debate. I don't belong to either one of your ridiculous policies and I think almost everything I have heard coming from Feinstein and from Obama are largely trivial or irrelevant aspects of firearms related violence, at least from a statistical standpoint.

    So, you preach to your choir about how everyone else is programmed and I'll continue to write my representatives and tell them to stand fast. If it makes you feel better to think I am a lesser person then go right ahead.

    January 27, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  24. joepa14221

    I love how this president figures that the other 50% of the people don't matter. in addition, he blames Fox News for everything because it is the only network that doesn't always agree with him and actually covers the news. Bengahzi, Obama's flip on what drives the deficit, his vote against the debt ceiling increase when he was a senator, his non compliance with the waren act, his not allowing the jones act to be set aside. He is egotistical and likes the fact that all the networks only feed his ego.

    January 27, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  25. chip

    If people would take time to read some ot the writings of our founders like Jefferson they would realize the second amendment does not have anything to do with hunting. The second amendment is to protect us trom a tyranical government. “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 Papers p. 334, ,[C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950] ) “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” (Jefferson's "Commonplace Book," 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764)

    January 27, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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