The White House has released a photograph of U.S. President Barack Obama firing a gun in response to criticism that he has too little experience with firearms to effectively lead a national dialogue on gun control.
The photo shows Obama in jeans, sunglasses, and noise mufflers firing a shotgun with smoke billowing out of the barrel.
Last week, Obama told the New Republic that he frequently shoots guns at the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland.
"We do skeet shooting all the time," the president said. "Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there."
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Right-wing politicians and pundits quickly jumped on the statement, with most expressing disbelief that Obama was familiar with firearms. Many believed it was simply a ploy for the president to appear sympathetic to gun owners while attempting to pass stricter gun-control laws.
On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether a photo existed of Obama in the act of firing a gun. At the press conference, Carney said he was not aware of such a photo, but he did not deny that the president had fired guns in the past.
“There may be, but I haven’t seen it,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Carney as saying. “When he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs.”
In his interview with the New Republic, Obama also discussed his respect for those who use firearms for hunting rather than violence.
"I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations," Obama said. "And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake. Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas. And 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."