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Published: Wednesday, 2/6/2013

Top gun

President Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., last August. President Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., last August.
THE WHITE HOUSE Enlarge

If White House officials thought that releasing a photo of President Obama skeet-shooting at Camp David would persuade his critics that he likes guns too, they didn’t have long to wait to find out otherwise. Scorn soon followed from the usual suspects.

No surprise: Even after the President produced his birth certificate, he still couldn’t stop some people from believing he was born in another country. Firing a shotgun at clay pigeons was never going to hit a helpful political target.

The photograph’s release confirmed that when Mr. Obama told the New Republic magazine he had taken up skeet-shooting as a hobby — something that was previously unknown — he was telling the truth. But why were some people so skeptical in the first place?

Second Amendment absolutists routinely assert that anyone who favors sensible restrictions on death-dealing assault weapons must hate guns and want to take all of them away. Yet plenty of gun owners who enjoy hunting and marksmanship also recognize that responsible gun ownership has no argument with sensible gun-control measures that respect everyone’s rights.

Whether it is the President or an ordinary citizen who expresses such views, there is nothing incongruous or hypocritical about enjoying shooting and wanting to see the most dangerous weapons kept out of the wrong hands.

Mr. Obama went to Minnesota this week to talk up a proposed ban on military-style assault weapons and development of universal background checks. One photo will not make his task easier.

But the knowledge that Americans who like to shoot are not all extremists will eventually wear down the anti-gun myth that has plagued those who advocate change — and sane regulation — in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.



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