The Obama Skeet-Shooting Truthers Think the President Is Scared of Guns

The Atlantic

President Obama said in an interview published this week that he has, in fact, shot a gun recently, and conservative skeptics are having a field day with the latest in presidential sport shooting. This isn't just a standard-issue defense of the Second Amendment, goes the new narrative, it's a cover-up from a man whose "athletic prowess" is not to be trusted, especially in the middle of a fight over new gun legislation.

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The quote that brought out the so-called "skeet shooting truthers" came from the president's much discussed interview with The New Republic, when editor Franklin Foer asked Obama if he had ever fired a gun. The response seemed typical:

Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time ... 

Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there. And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake.

It's a classic politician's dodge: "we" and "do" is not nearly as committal as, say, "I shot a gun last week." And there's history to this example — even Glenn Beck's site acknowledged that everyone from Eisenhower to Kennedy has taken to the Camp David skeet range. 

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Nevertheless, out came the skeptics. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn), no stranger to heated cable-news exchanges, went on CNN Monday night and challenged President Obama to a skeet-shooting contest:

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More importantly, Blackburn questioned the timing — and reality — of Obama's hunting quote: "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?"

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Lest you confuse those sentences for birther territory, other conservatives got more specific about the Obama quote, linking the gun reference to, well, substantiated history and his status as a sports fan. Over at the conservative-leaning American Thinker, Rick Moran wrote: "We should be skeptical - very skeptical - of any claim to athletic prowess by this president." That isn't because Moran doesn't not want a really athletic ripped president (he seemed okay with Paul Ryan in this blog post) so much as because he thinks Obama doesn't know the White Sox as well as he should, that NBA commissioner David Stern made a joke about Obama's basketball skills, and that the president is a bad bowler. So, yeah, there's that, and this: "I doubt whether the Secret Service would let the president handle a gun of any kind - especially since he has not demonstrated any knowledge or expertise in firearms during his entire public life." As we said, even Glenn Beck's The Blaze posted this from Camp David:

So why are the "truthers" coming out over the president doing a little face-saving with the gun crowd? Hasn't he made clear his support of the Second Amendment throughout his push for new proposals on gun violence? Well, there's the convenient timing, of course, but the gun push is why he was asked the question in the first place. No, conservative skeptics say — this guy doesn't know anything about guns or the gun initiatives he's trying to push. Breitbart's Joel Pollack writes:

Obama’s shooting claim is evidently meant to assuage critics of his gun control proposals by reassuring them that he shares their enthusiasm for Second Amendment rights--not just sport shooting, but hunting in particular.

It's just the latest in a narrative that Obama, when it comes right down to it, is afraid of guns. Whether that's true or not, conservatives sure aren't afraid to say so.