Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican representing Tennessee, appeared to question the claim voiced by President Barack Obama that he is an avid skeet shooter. Said Blackburn on January 28 on CNN’s OutFront with Erin Burnett, "I think he should invite me to Camp David, and I'll go skeet shooting with him and I bet I'll beat him." This came after The New Republic published an interview with Obama as he is enlisting public support for a legislative package of gun controls. The chief executive expressed deep respect for American sportsmen and hunters and, when asked if he had ever discharged a firearm, responded "Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.” Besides, said Obama, “And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. “ Obama was quick to point out, however, that he is not passing on his shooting past-time on to his daughters.
"And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake," added Obama. Obama also noted that gun ownership in rural America is a "very different" phenomenon that that in urban areas, such as Chicago, where it is frequently linked to violent crime. "If you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family's traditions, you can see why you'd be pretty protective of that," Obama told The New Republic.
Rep. Blackburn expressed scepticism , while appearing to suggest that Obama’s claim to wielding firearms is a political ploy. "If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why hasn't he referenced this at any point in time as we have had this gun debate that is ongoing,” Blackburn asked. “You would have thought it would have been a point of reference.” Rep. Blackburn is a native of Laurel, Mississippi, and is a former image consultant.
At a January 28 White House press conference, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he is not "sure how often" Obama shoots skeet. Carney replied, when asked why the public has not seen any pictures of Obama shooting, "Because when he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs." He added, "There may be [a photo], but I haven't seen it."
President Obama is calling on Congress to pass new restrictions on gun ownership. Besides universal background checks, Obama wants bans on so-called ‘assault weapons’ and high-capacity ammunition magazines. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Obama signed a number of executive actions aimed at tightening current gun laws. Vice-President Joseph Biden has drawn up tighter firearms regulations after several weeks of study. Efforts by Obama and gun-control advocates, such as Sen. Diane Feinstein, have faced strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats, especially in the West and South. The various groups advocating gun-rights, such as the National Rifle Association, are also mounting a campaign against new restrictions.
In his New Republic interview, Obama also expressed an avuncular concern about player safety in American football games. This came just a week before the Super Bowl, when millions will be glued to television sets to watch NFL mayhem on the field. Several professional football players have in recent years developed brain damage, which has been linked to the frequent impacts on their skulls despite wearing helmets. Concern is growing over potential injuries to young people, especially high school boys, who engage in the rough and tumble sport so beloved by Americans. "I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," said Obama.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.