(NEW YORK) -- Amid a push from the White House and progressive Democrats for tighter gun control laws, President Obama revealed Sunday he made time for shooting during retreats. The revelation came in an interview published Sunday morning in which the president was asked if he had ever held a gun.
“Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” he responded to the New Republic.
“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,” he said.
Last week the president signed several executive orders strengthening gun regulation and revealed proposals that, if enacted, would include bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
The measures are expected to face an uphill battle in Congress and from opponents who believe they would be an infringement on their Second Amendment rights. Some Republican lawmakers, however, have expressed openness to elements of the hypothetical bill, including a universal background check system for gun sales.
Obama said he understood the realities of dealing with weapons in urban areas versus rural America.
“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,” he told the magazine.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Thursday found 53 percent of Americans viewed Obama’s gun control plan favorably, 41 percent unfavorably. Recognizing the division, the president said some lobbies in favor of restricting gun access needed to seek common ground.
“It’s trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months,” he said. “And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes.”
The interview was published a day after several thousand demonstrators in favor of stronger gun control marched on the nation’s capital. The crowd was joined by some families of victims from the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting in December.
The relatively candid New Republic interview mostly focused on the strained political climate in Washington and how the president weighed issues such as immigration and Syria going into his second term. But the one-on-one also tackled a less weighty topic: Whether the president — an avid football watcher — viewed the professional sport differently in light of heightened national awareness of its health dangers.
“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” he said, adding he expected the sport to gradually change to “reduce some of the violence,” albeit at the cost of drama.
“I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well compensated for the violence they do to their bodies,” he said. “You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on.”
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