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February 04, 2013

Does President Obama own any guns? Not that his Press Secretary is aware of

The White House elaborated Monday on the decision to release a photograph of President Obama shouldering a gun -- a move it says it made to counter what one aide dubbed the "skeeters," -- those who questioned Obama's remarks in an interview that he had ever really shot skeet at Camp David.

"The fact is the president was asked a question – did not volunteer - but was asked a question about whether or not he had ever shot a weapon," Press Secretary Jay Carney said. "He answered with the truth, which is that he has enjoyed shooting competitively with friends at Camp David on multiple occasions."

Carney said the White House assumed Obama's words would stand, "but there were persistent questions about this and we decided to release a photo of the president shooting at Camp David."

The remarks come as the administration mounts an aggressive effort to find ways to curb gun violence amid staunch opposition from the National Rifle Association.

Asked whether President Obama shoots skeet or trap, Carney said he wasn't "an expert, and I don't think (Obama) would claim to be either. What I can tell you is that he has enjoyed competing with friends up there at Camp David. As you probably know, the president likes competition of all kinds."

Carney said Obama "has gotten better," but added, "Here's the thing to understand: the president has made clear he grew up in Hawaii, he's spent time in California, Chicago and Cambridge. He never pretended to or suggested that he had grown up as a hunter or engaging in sports activities with weapons. He simply said that he had, and this is the truth, that he had enjoyed shooting at Camp David. That's a fact."

Carney said the photograph doesn't depict "the only time he shot a weapon," but said he wasn't sure if  Obama had gone shooting before becoming president. Obama in 2010 told the Texas Christian University's national championship rifle team -- visiting at the White House -- that he had practiced shooting with a rifle. "He said he practiced with the Secret Service," one student said at the time.

Asked whether Obama personally owns any firearms, Carney said, "Not that I’m aware of."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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