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. jim

    His pollsters clearly show him having trouble with gun owning Democrats, so he invents this "skeet shooting" tale. Riiight.

    January 27, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Name

    The argument from people saying the 2nd amendment doesn't say that people can own military type weapons is ridiculous. They owned them back then. The only thing the military used that the common man did not was a cannon.

    January 27, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. Wow

    I have been reading a lot about how we live in different times than the days of the musket rifle. In 30 years we will also be living in much different times. Artificial Intelligence is already here. There will be a day where machines will outperform humans. What will these musket people say then?

    January 27, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. Legion

    I own various types of firearms, "assault rifles", shot guns, hand guns, hunting rifles ect. and I could care less about any law that is passed banning any type of firearm, I will not give up my weapons, ever. I fought in Afghanistan, and I swore an oath to defend the constitution, I'm not going to allow the progressive and liberal interpretation of the constitution to dictate what I can can cannot own.

    January 27, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. Steve9930

    Under current law a citizen may own a machine gun.

    January 27, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. Gonzoinhouston

    75% politics, 25% hysteria, and everything else is reasoned discussion.

    January 27, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  7. I LOL @ You

    All of you kids who say the second amendment is there to "protect us from tyranny" need to shut it and stop spreading lies. The second amendment believe it or not had nothing to do with these idiotic remarks. Think about the logistics of defending a country as broad as the united states with 18-19th century technology. It would take days or even weeks to move from say new york to texas to fight off an invasion or uprising from native peoples. Similar to the battle of the alamo. Thus the founding fathers decided that each state should be able to have a REGULATED(aka not a bunch of untrained idiots) militia as a first line of defense in order to hold stability and law should an invasion or uprising occur.

    This whole tyranny against the government comes from a fake quote from Thomas Jefferson that the conservative propaganda machines have been beating into the heads of those less mentally endowed.

    January 27, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. billy poole

    Well the American people have the right not to ban weapons, not the president or congress. Without a vote to take a way your constitutional right, those new are invalid and unconstitutional.

    January 27, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  9. It all changed with Newtown?

    "It all changed with Newtown"...this phrase in different forms, has been used over and over since that horrible tragedy. There is another phrase that comes to mind every time I hear it..."the more things change the more they stay the same". There's a line of lyrics in a Shawn Mullins song; a ballad about an old woman who was the victim of gang violence..."everything changed forever and everything stayed the same...the night Mrs. Johnson died". Sadly, the reason these similar phrases are used so often is that when an unthinkable tragedy happens, the focus is so emotional and reactionary, we as fallible humans, refuse to take the time to deeply evaluate the situation and make changes that address the root cause. No, were too busy being angry, shocked and in grief to do that in the short term, and this is understandable. But after enough time passes, people who are leaders in this society, especially those we have voted into office, should possess the mental faculties to ask why just a little more. They should ensure that whatever actions they take will effectively prevent or at least mitigate re-occurrences of these tragedies. Our leaders have decided the cause is the availability of weapons. Unfortunately our leaders have once again failed us. Thinking and causal analysis is not one of their attributes. They are Lawyers, they can only make laws, and they cannot foresee or guarantee the long term effect with any certainty, because they ignore the rule of cause and effect. It's easier and less risky to their careers, to jump on the bandwagon of public emotions. The inconvenient fact is that Al Queda, drug cartels, other terrorist organizations, or sane law abiding people are not attacking our schools. In every case, from Columbine, to Va. Tech, to Newtown, a mentally ill person who was allowed access to dangerous weapons was the driving force behind the massacre. For those not used to causal analysis, that is called a common contributing cause. If we go a step further and ask "why" just one more time, we will finally come to the root cause of this problem. This simply is that the U.S. has NO national mental health program. Not only do we not have one, we have eliminated hundreds of thousands of beds in mental health facilities since the sixties. We have reduced quality mental health care to a few psychiatric facilities for the wealthy only. We have chosen to allow mentally ill people access to any dangerous tools or activities they may uncontrollably pursue. This of course is in the name of protecting their individual rights. We ruthlessly wait for them to eventually break the law so we can throw them in jail or for them to die. Until then, their family and friends have little hope of getting any help for them. You are constantly advised that when they "hit rock bottom", they will seek help as if they are mentally capable of taking care of themselves. So it is grossly ironic that in the name protecting individual rights, those rights get taken away. The most precious rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for those innocent children of Newtown were taken away by all of us...the same society that chooses to ignore people like Adam Lanza or Seung-Hui Cho.
    I don't own an AK-47 or AR-15, or have felt the need to have one, but I may soon, since I know that once again things will stay the same because our leaders don't have the courage or capability to address the cause.

    January 27, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. Thomas Jefferson

    Obama is right, no one should have "assault rifles", the semi automatic ar-15 and 30 round magazines. But can I have some of the 7,000 "Personal Defense Weapons" with "select fire" and 30 round magazines? Those sound ideal right? That's what DHS calls the 7,000 AR-15s with full auto feature they just got. They wanted them for DHS personel because they are ideal for personal defense in close quarters. Can I trade in my evil semi automatic ar-15 "assault rifle" that Feinstein says has only military use for a full auto ar-15 "Personal Defense Weapon" that is ideal for home defense?

    January 27, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. Pete

    When Obama states they support the 2nd Amendment, then says that he shoots skeet, or supports the hunting tradition, he is totally missing the point. The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with any of those things.

    The 2nd Amendment is to put it bluntly not about having the ability to shoot deer, it's about your ability to to shoot tyrants if the need were to arise.

    In the case, Miller vs the United States, Miller lost his case. He was in possession of a sawed off shotgun, seems he thought he needed it as a militia member. The court ruled that a sawed off shotgun was not a suitable military weapon, because it was not standard issue, therefore it was not protected by the 2nd Amendment. Setting a precedence that the 2nd Amendment protected the rights of individuals to possess a suitable military firearms as a member of the militia that includes all armed citizens of the United States.

    January 27, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  12. Infringeless

    BO simply doesn't get it. It's not about hunting. It's not about target shooting. It's about our inalienable right to own guns for our own security. And yes, that includes "assault weapons" with 30 round magazines. You know, the type of guns the DHS just bought which they characterize as "Personal Defense Weapons suitable for personal defense in close quarters." (Except theirs are fully automatic). He's not going to get his gun and magazine bans. One way or another, his attempts to strip rights from the people he works for will fail.

    January 27, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Larry L

    @Owl Creek Observer

    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.
    ==================================================================================================== Pull your head out! Nobody is trying to disarm people who now own any of the 300 million guns distributed across America. The President nor Ms. Feinstein are saying that! Everything would be grandfathered. Think and not just shoot off (pun intended) your large caliber pie hole.

    January 27, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  14. Larry L

    Yet again... I'd still like to hear a logical answer to a core 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! How come none of you vocal N.R.A. supporters have an answer? Do you see the logical problem with your misinterpretation of that aspect of the 2nd?

    January 27, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. Nate

    Infringe..... I don't think people understand the definition of that word. Apply the same word to free speech and suddenly it would be clearer to them.

    January 27, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  16. hypocrate

    Why not ban the consumption of alcohol in public places like bars and restaraunts? Plenty of innocent people get killed by drunk drivers. Oh yea I forgot, most people that drink are responsible drinkers, only a few people break the law and drive drunk . Oh and drinking alcohol has plenty of uses other than getting drunk.

    January 27, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  17. WatrGrrl

    The 2nd Amendment is to ensure that the populace can protect itself from tyranny. There can be no change to the 2nd Amendment without ensuring that such a move would be the first step towards tyranny. If this relatively unpopular and untrustworthy man in the Office of The President and his radical left-wing Senators attempt to subvert our Constitution they will see that Americans will not tolerate such action. Mr. Obama, despite your arrogance, many, many Americans cling to their guns as well as their Bibles – and we believe in using either one at the appropriate times. Armed people are free, unarmed people are slaves.

    January 27, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  18. Jay

    Politicians will always use whatever means they can to disarm us. The constitution is a barrier they really wish they didn't have to deal with, and over the years they have done their best to work their way around it. When our founding fathers wrote that piece, they wrote it to protect our country from itself. The problem with people saying we don't need weapons with high capacity mags is that they are the ones who expect government to take care of them and their needs, they don't know or want to know how to do things for themselves. When government fails, look back in history it's happened a lot, people are going to have to take things into their own hands. Their are parts of this country that people think twice about going through because of gangs and drug violence. I work with a company, and our policy now is that after a certain time, no one is allowed to go to certain areas in town without backup, and that is only if it is a true emergency. The police don't even want to go into some parts of town. These criminals can't be held in jail because of monetary reasons, so they are paroled early or just let go. It really is crazy these days, sometimes I think we're going backwards instead of forwards. People are stealing from others, and heck even stealing power lines. Just crazy in 2012, and probably going to be worse in 2013.

    January 27, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  19. sidprejean

    Folks like Steve (above) exhibit classic symptoms of paranoia disguised as patriotism. Arming yourself to "keep the government in line" sounds more like treason than anything else.

    January 27, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. lmc11

    Americans need to start asking themselves why DHS has recently purchased 450 million rounds, yes 450 MILLION rounds of hollow point bullets, to be delivered over the next few years. DHS has also just ordered 7,000 millitary assault rifles. Now we are not talking about the Army, Navy or Marines. We are talking DHS. Now considering that DHS sued states that tried to protect its borders, just who do you think they plan on using these weapons and amo against??? It is not rocket science folks. They do not use hollow points in war and DHS is not fighting wars. They are however trying to disarm and control the American people. This has happend in history many times before and it has never ended well for the citizens. Start asking questions America. And NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP YOUR GUNS!!!!

    January 27, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  21. Roger

    History lesson for Thomasamoh T.

    In 1787 well regulated meant well trained and equipped. Also many towns had regulations requiring citizens to own weapons and keep ammunition on hand for militia use.

    January 27, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  22. ThinkNow

    I call upon all African Americans, Mexican Americans, Arab Americans, Persian Americans and all minorities to arm yourselves. Please show up to your next local gun show or local sports store. Exercise your RIGHT to buy as many high powered rifles, handguns, high capacity clips, and ammunition as possible. Follow the lead of your fellow Americans. If they're stocking up so should you. Remember a armed society is a polite society. Right?

    January 27, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  23. rs

    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.
    You know, living in wing nut, AZ. where every mouth breather has, and can legally buy, more and deadlier guns, I am sick and tired of wondering which one is going to start shooting- over parking spots, $15 debts, insults, and traffic accidents (as we have seen in good ol' AZ.).

    I HAVE A RIGHT TO SAFETY- FROM idiots with guns! Stop defending the murderers' rights.

    January 27, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  24. rs

    Stop defending the rights of people to murder using guns. Listen to yourself- you are justifying 1,300 needless deaths (in just the last 5 weeks) just because you don't wish to hold gun owners and the gun industry to be RESPONSIBLE. That they might be "inconvenienced", frankly means nothing if it stops one murder or saves one child. Never mind the 20 primary school kids slaughtered. Heavens, everyone should have an AR-15 just because they want one. If you can't see the problem with your statements, or your reasoning- you are just a clueless tool for the NRA.

    January 27, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  25. Pete/Ark

    I have guns...I have no fear...not because of my guns,but because our traditions are proven to balance out extremism from any side..

    January 27, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
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