As Obama Engages in the Gun Debate, Skeetgate Erupts

As Obama Engages in the Gun Debate, Skeetgate Erupts
Rest assured, the president has shot something (Photograph by Michael Braun)
Photograph by Michael Braun

My malarkey antennae twitched violently when I read that President Obama was trying to sell his gun control agenda by boosting his shooting-sports prowess.

In an interview with the New Republic, the president underscored his respect for the Second Amendment by commenting that he has indeed fired a gun. “In fact,” Obama said, “up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.”

Oh boy, that’s trouble.

First, the claim reminded me of Obama’s erstwhile foe Mitt Romney’s about-face on the gun issue. As governor of Massachusetts, the ultimate blue state, Romney pushed stricter gun control. Years later, when he decided to run for the Republican presidential nomination, the former governor discovered a new devotion to the Second Amendment and signed up for a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association. “I’m not a big-game hunter,” he said. “I’ve made it very clear, I’ve always been a, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter, all right? Small, small varmints, if you will. And I began when I was, oh, 15 or so, and have hunted those kinds of varmints since then—more than two times. I also hunted quail in Georgia, so I’ve—it’s not really big-game hunting, if you will, however. It’s not deer and large animals. But I’ve hunted a number of times of various types of small rodents.”

Got it? Romney has shot some stuff.

Now Obama wants everyone to know he’s shot some stuff too, albeit clay disks launched into the air to simulate birds. Um, OK. I thought he was a basketball and golf guy, but whatever. I wondered whether the president got a little carried away when he reassured the New Republic of his “profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations.” I mean, they do have a skeet-shooting range at Camp David. Other presidents have shot skeet, including John F. Kennedy. But in all of the many, many profiles I had read of the incumbent head of state (for whom I voted twice, by way of full disclosure), I hadn’t detected even a whiff of gun powder.

Now the Washington Post, returning to its Watergate glory, has published a first skeptical article about how the White House is stonewalling on when, exactly, and with whom, and how often President Obama has shot skeet at Camp David.

Can hearings in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives be far off?

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