Obama’s $5,000 Shotgun Real McCoy, Wrong Question in Gun Control Debate?

Photograph by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Barack Obama departs the White House on Feb. 4, 2013 to Minneapolis to tout his gun control proposals.


The release of the White House photo showing President Barack Obama shooting skeet at Camp David comes two days before Obama travels to Minneapolis to promote his agenda for curbing gun violence, following the Dec. 14 shootings of 20 schoolchildren and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, by a young gunman wielding his mother’s semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle.

The photo of the president, recorded Aug. 4, 2012 at Camp David, was taken on a summer Saturday — his 51st birthday — two weeks and a day after a young gunman walked into the Century 16 multiplex theater in Aurora, Colo., and opened fire with a Remington shotgun and a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle and a 100-round drum ammunition magazine that jammed, forcing him to move on to his Glock handgun. The attack during the midnight showing of “The Dark Night Rises” claimed 12 lives and injured 58 other people.

The day after the president was shooting clay targets at Camp David, a gunman with a Springfield 9 mm semi-automatic pistol who had recently bought the gun and three 19-round ammo clips walked into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and killed six people.

This picture was taken in the heat of a presidential campaign in which, despite the mass shootings that summer, neither Obama nor his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, were pressed to confront an issue that has haunted American society for years.

The release of the White House photo today clearly is an attempt by a president pressing for tougher gun controls to show that he understands the aims of law-abiding gun owners. Yet in many ways, the photo of the first gun-owner underscores something about the pervasiveness of firearms in American culture.

The president’s gun-promoting critics will not accept him as one of their own.

The Washington Times was quick to suggest that the commander-in-chief is no ordinary gun-owner. The paper quoted the CEO of Browning, Travis Hall, as saying of the shotgun pictured in the Camp David photo: “I am fairly sure it is a Browning Citori.” The Times writes: “As the president is left handed, it could be the 12 gauge Citori 625 Sporting Golden Clays, adjustable comb, left hand. It features a gold engraving of a game bird transforming into a clay target on the receiver and retails for $4,799. ” (Various Browning Citori shotguns run between $3,200 and $7,000.)

And the Associated Press quoted a top official with the National Skeet Shooting Association as saying the White House photo suggests Obama is a novice shooter. “This isn’t something he’s done very often because of how he’s standing, how he has the gun mounted,” said Michael Hampton, executive director of the San Antonio-based association.

The National Rifle Association, for its part, whose membership reportedly has boomed since the Newtown shootings, wasn’t offering the president any membership card today. The AP quoted  Andrew Arulanandam, NRA spokesman, as saying: “One picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun-control scheme imaginable.”

And then there was the photo itself. At a White House whose occupant suffered years of questioning about his citizenship and the authenticity of his Hawaiian birth certificate, officials today attempted to forestall all the likely Photoshop conspiracy theorists — likening a new breed of “Skeeters” to those nagging “Birthers.”

From David Plouffe (#whereistrump), manager of the first campaign and author of “The Audacity to Win:”


From Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director-turned senior adviser:

The picture is real.

We know Pete Souza, the White House photographer, a professional’s professional.

The president’s affinity with gun-owners remains a question, yet probably averts the real question here.

This photo of a sporting shoot two weeks after one massacre and the day before another, released as the president sets out to rally public support for gun controls following the most shocking mass shooting of all, isn’t likely to make any real connection between Obama and a gun-owning public. It’s simply another reminder that there’s probably nothing to worry about with guns in the hands of the right people. It’s the rest of them — and their high-powered weapons — that are the problem.

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