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. tom

    I don't subscribe to the idea that private ownership of semiauto rifles is necessary to resist the government. However, I absolutely believe that ownership of one could be crucial to protecting one's family in times of natural disaster and the breakdown of social order. This has occurred repeatedly over the years, and anyone who believes that law enforcement will be capable of protecting them from rioters, looters, and anarchists hasn't been paying attention. Even the deterrent effect of displaying a scary black rifle may be sufficient. It's a lot better to have one and not need it, than to wish you had one and end up being a victim because the nanny state decided you couldn't be trusted with it.

    January 27, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  2. Vader

    Interesting... It's not the gun control folks issuing veiled threats, it the pro gun crowd. Guess a dose of .38 caliber courage is at play here.

    January 27, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  3. CrazyA__People

    Stop referring to the "founding fathers" and the purpose of the 2nd amendment as 'the right to rise up to a tyranical government"! The founding fathers are no longer with us and are from a different era, and the paranoia about forming a militia to protect ourselves is a delusion stemming from decadent modern society. We live in a new era, and learn to live within a society that established choices in choosing leaders democratically and peacefully, without the threat of "bearing arms" in response to fear of laws being changed. For God's sake people, grow up! The black helicopters coming and the United Nations forming one government will never happen!

    January 27, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  4. colouranddesign

    I do not a whole lot to add since these true Americans have said it so succinctly!!!

    They appear to be educated Americans that understand the potential for losing our 2nd. Amendment rights to radicals
    in the Obama administration.

    January 27, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  5. Baseballplayer

    How come we are not talking about the fact that the AR 15 was left in the car ??? He didn't go into the school shoot some kids and come out put it in his car then go back in .... This rifle was found in his car outside ...not next to his dead body ....I'd love to see those autopsy reports that show 9mm and handguns that did all of the damage

    January 27, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Using the current logic on gun control, MADD should be calling for restrictions on auto sales. Not just the sales to persons with DUI or DWI convictions, but the general public. Even teetotallers could have a bad day and drive drunk. Perhaps, there should be an all out ban on the sale of sports cars like Corvettes or Lamborghinis. After all, who needs a car that can reach speeds of 180 mph? More people die from drunk drivers every year than from gun violence.

    January 27, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  7. sonnie3

    Dear Chris
    Yes they (our founding fathers) were puting the second Amendment in place to control a government that runs amuck and trys things against the will of the people. This was not a national Guard run by the Government. This was to preserve our liberties and freedoms if a president or congress was to try and take them from us. This militia idea was not Government lead, but by the revolting citizins that may be steped on unfairly by our elected leaders. It was to give the public a strong hand in a revolt if needed to curb unwanted Government Control. Its was so we would not be subjects or slaves to leaders who want total control of our lives. Our Fore Fathers Were Smart to give us this protection and it say it shall not be infringed. These are some of the lessons they learned when they fled opression from the country they came from to pursuse freedoms from corrupt leaders in government.

    January 27, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Did you notice that one of the weapons that would be banned under Feinstein's bill is a .22 caliber rifle? Give me a break. Next thing we know we will have a ban on air rifles and pellet guns. Who knows, they could be considered to be assault rifles.

    January 27, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  9. Clyde

    I would gladly discuss this with ANYONE if they actually knew what an assault weapon is! The criteria listed for the left gun grab is appalling!

    January 27, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  10. Lee

    I am somewhere in the middle of this debate. I find BOTH sides of the argument to awfully extremist and unrealistic to the point of being obnoxious.

    Agree that everyone buying a gun should have a background check done. If you've got nothing to hide, then you should have nothing to worry about.

    Eliminating gun ownership? When you can assure with 100% certainty that everyone is protected from any threat and be able to verify there are NO guns anywhere in the world, then sure. Is this realistic? Of course not.

    The more I read the rantings from the anti-gun proponents, the more I move toward the gun rights side. And that is coming from someone who is a moderate.

    January 27, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  11. HistoryBuff


    "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."

    In the modern vernacular "regulated" tends to mean limited or controlled. But in the vernacular of the late 18th century and in the military context, "well regulated" means "well trained and equipped." A militia was/is considered any collection of the common citizenry for a militant purpose. So the 2nd amendment is saying for a free state to remain secure, it is necessary for the citizenry to be well equipped and competent in arms in the event that they need to form a militia to defend their freedom. Therefore, people's right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The meaning of the term "infringed" hasn't really changed at all in the last couple centuries. It means to limit, intrude, hamper or impede. The amendment therefore explicitly states that the government is not to put any limits, or "regulations" in the modern vernacular, on the peoples right to keep and bear arms.

    So, basically, everything you said is wrong.

    January 27, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  12. Scott

    What I am trying to figure out, is the legislation limiting the clip size. Are they saying that 10 deaths are ok, but 11 should be outlawed? If it is 10 today, will it be 6 tomorrow and then 0 (one in the chamber only) after that?

    January 27, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  13. Tim

    Note to Obama: The Second Amendment is not up for debate. Stop trying to remove our freedoms and start working to solve the economic problems you have created.

    January 27, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  14. GBfromOhio

    The really scary posts are the ones that maintain we have to have weapons to "protect ourselves from the government". These are the same people who have the "support our troops" stickers, wear American flag lapel pins, wave the flag and scream to anyone that will listen that "American is the best country in the world". Makes no sense, these are people ranging from reasoning impaired to dangerous anarchists.

    January 27, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. Paul

    Guns right advocates will continue to repeat the rhetoric that "they" are coming to take all your guns away. Watch out for the black helicopters over your house as "they" are coming to get you. Paranoia at its greatest. My question is this, "how many children have to be killed"? before we do something.

    January 27, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  16. JS

    ummmm....the 2nd amendment is not about a hunting or shooting tradition and it is not about feelings or what we think is best on the day based around what horrible event may have unfolded. It is about the balance of power in our society. Just as the constitution defines the balance of power between our branches of government, the 2nd amendment also addresses a balance of power, but between free, independent thinking and acting citizens who are responsible for themselves and their government, who's sole responsibilities are also outlined in the document. This issue has already begun to be addressed by the supreme court in 2008 and 2010 establishing that the 2nd amendment protects the rights of citizens to bear firearms separately from any involvement in militia, and also over and above any state attempts to diminish the right of the citizen in this area for any reason. The fact that there are still cause at law for removal of rights is only because they have yet to be tried in the supreme court. We have just recently seen the president moving unconstitutionally in another area and the court striking his actions down. Executive Actions are not exempt from the constitution. I expected our President to understand this as well since he lauds his past as a constitutional lawyer. This issue will be no different over the long run. Although in the short term it may be that various bans are instituted, they will eventually be overturned as the supreme court weighs in and finally completes what has already begun. It is a very clear cut legal situation waiting for any citizen of the United States to come along to address it in front of the supreme court. Should anyone wish that the right to bear arms be removed from the constitution, the constitution itself provides the framework in which the 2nd amendment can be repealed. Having said all of this, it surprises me that many people have the idea that the government has their best interest at heart when they do not trust their neighbor, or sometimes even their family members to make decisions on their behalf. Why would you trust your safety and freedom to those who do not even know, or care that you exist in exchange for the illusion that you are safer now that you have made someone else responsible for your safety.

    January 27, 2013 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  17. Jon

    " 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"

    Thomas I don't know where you learned your reading comprehension but I think you should get a refund.
    "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"
    A well regulated militia means a well performing militia. A militia can not perform its duties without arms. A militia is also made up of individual citizens not professional soldiers. If the citizenry is ever called upon to form militias where will they get their arms? They will have to bring them from home. The weapons of war will not appear out of thin air. I suppose you think enemy, foreign or domestic, will just hand the american people weapons to fight with?

    Try re-reading that last part of the amendment. It clearly says the rights of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed. How much clearer could they have written that sentence? I don't know about you but an gov't code book I have ever read when the terms Shall and Shall not are used, you are to follow those directions exactly. If the founders wanted the types of arms the people could own, they would have wrote that the right to bear arms SHALL be restricted.

    January 27, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  18. Ken

    Lets strengthen the penalties for the individuals and families that knowingly allow an unstable member of there inner cirlcle to own or operate any type of weapon that could injure or kill. Lets start with this discussion and see where we get.

    January 28, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. Animal

    Obama's lying his rear end off. Obama wants to get rid of all firearms. If he didn't he wouldn't have written his firearm ban the way he did. The way it's written ALL firearms fall under the description of assault weapon.

    January 28, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  20. Manuel J.

    The 2nd Amendment is NOT about "duck hunting", it's about protecting ourselves from tyrants; internal and external. One only has to look to our south to see what gun control does to the citizenry.

    Mexican law prohibits ownership of long gun (e.g. 30-30 cal, 30-06 cal, AR 15-like rifles, etc.) by ANYONE other than the military or law enforcement. However, it seems the criminal forgot to read or follow the law (sarcasm), as ten's of thousands of Mexicans die each year from criminal activity.

    Long story short, the gun isn't the problem but certain people are!!

    January 28, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  21. Know Your Subject

    So Obama and Biden join the royalty of Europe in enjoying shooting shotguns. For the rest of us who do not have round-the-clock security details, the issue is not how much fun it may be to bust clay targets.

    January 28, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  22. Notnownotever

    How about this

    Instead of debating the Second Ammendment- which by the way it is stated "shall not be infringed"– Maybe we should focus on a new Declaration of Independance. Maybe the Senate and White House would like to see that backed by 300,00,000 million well armed Americans.

    P.S. Piers Morgan should be charged with treason for making a statement that the U.S Military would use nuclear arms against its population. Don't worry though, we wont even be able to pay them come May. Allready looking for an aircraft carrier on ebay

    God Bless America

    January 28, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  23. smollkita

    Wow. I think it is so interesting that some think that proposed laws will mean much to the ones that already poses guns.

    So you have this person walking into Walmart, wanting to purchase a gun. He fills out some paperwork gets a regular background check and after some time passed he can come pick it up.

    I would feel more safe if the person would have gone through a more "thorough" check. We have people with depressions buying the guns to kill themselves and maybe a couple around them. We have people with other mental illnesses that might be harming themselves or others. Why is it so bad to have a check that shows some of your medical history? Some of you afraid what it would reveal about you?

    I don't have a gun, and don't care much for them. But I also don't have anything against a sane person owning a gun to feel more protected. I just have some concerns about people who do not take guns serious enough. Why is it not required to get some training with a gun before purchase, so you really know what you are doing, rather than reading a handbook and practicing on some cans in the forrest or backyard.

    I have a female friend that lives alone ever since her son went to college. She has a gun for her own protection. I think that is great. However, once she almost shot her own son, because he came home late, forgetting to let her know he was coming home for the weekend. I still don't know how I feel about that, but I just know I rather not have the gun to make a huge mistake with.

    I agree with those who say that the right to bear arms from our constitution is a little outdated, considering that we do not live in a country anymore where police is 'forever" away. But I don't mind people having guns AS LONG AS THEY ARE CHECKED THOROUGHLY AND KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT.

    In European countries you get a month of training just so you can hunt animals, so that you know exactly where to shoot without having the animal suffer, especially since there are different ways to shoot an animal also depending on what type of animal it is. And you have to pass a written test at the end.

    Sorry, I love the idea of knowing that the ones out there carrying a gun know what they are doing and are somewhat sane.

    January 28, 2013 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  24. howesr1

    ThomasamohT, where does it say that freedom of speech allows you to mouth off on the internet? It doesn't. The internet wasn't invented back then, but the intent of the law is the same. Should we regulate what you can say on the internet? No. Just like you don't regulate the intent of the second amendment.

    January 28, 2013 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear Steve,
    The US national debt of $16.5tr has what pray to do with gun control and laws? Maybe I am stupid ( as many gun owners tell me but I have an IQ of 150) but I missed the connection. Educate me please? You seem to hark back to 1776 and " a well regulated militia" You being one thereof.
    Sorry sir we have a Republic since then not a monarchy and dicatatorship with checks and balances in the political process coming out of our ears... "gridlock sound familiar" Its worked for over 250 years.
    How pray politically in todays America can our " federal government" ( dont forget states powers) overthrow you and me!!? And QED our CIC/ president declale war on "us" and the US we the people?
    The UK king is dead and long live the king... but we do not have one to worry about anymore.
    Think and grow up!!

    January 28, 2013 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
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