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Why Obama’s ‘skeet-gate’ is completely absurd

Staff Columnist

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

In an interview with “The New Republic,” President Obama said that he had “a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations,” and also mentioned that “Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.” These comments were made in a recent push for gun legislation. The news media erupted in a storm of skepticism and criticism at the comments. The incident was soon called “Skeet-gate,” and the entire “scandal” is utterly preposterous.

After the comment, many critics cried out for proof. A few days later, the White House released a photo of Obama skeet shooting. Rather than quelling the controversy, this fed into multiple conspiracy theories about how the photo had been a result of Photoshop. However, these conspiracy theories are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what is wrong with Skeet-gate.

On Obama’s side, I don’t believe that he was lying. I’m sure that he does have a respect for the nation’s hunting traditions and that he has probably at some point in his life gone skeet shooting. The issue that I take is why these comments are so important to Obama and the White House. In pushing for more gun control, he needs to bring people together on a very divisive issue. Like a lot of politicians, Obama is trying to make the pitch of “I’m like you” in order to reach out to gun owners. It is sad that politicians feel the need for this kind of disingenuous pandering in order to garner support, which brings me to my next point.

Upon hearing this story my initial response was an emphatic “Who cares?” Many news pundits were in an uproar building off the idea that Obama’s lack of gun experience disqualified him from passing legislation related to gun control. Whether or not Obama has ever fired a gun should be irrelevant. Shooting a gun does not give you insight into the world of gun violence. Shooting a gun would give Obama an idea of how to shoot it, how to reload and give him an overall understanding of the mechanics of a gun. However, none of that will help when it comes to creating policy that helps reduce gun violence.

But perhaps the most absurd element of Skeet-gate is the failure of critics to understand how the President of the United States operates and the blatant double standard that it sets. Using the argument that Obama is not a gun owner and therefore not able to understand gun control naturally leads to other conclusions. He also never served in the military; therefore, he should not be commander in chief. He is also not an economist, does not have experience in green energy and was also never a taxi driver so he should not be able to pass any policy related to any of those things. It is true that the President is not an expert on everything, nor should he be expected to be. Almost no policy is ever created on the basis of personal experience. Rather, every president has had cabinet members and other officials to weigh in on issues they specialize in. For example, in the gun control debate Obama has had input from multiple law enforcement officials and other groups that have a much better understanding of gun violence and what can be done to reduce it. When it comes to the economy or foreign policy, presidents will consult the leading members in those areas.

In the end, Skeet-gate amounts to a controversy based on practically nothing. There are plenty of logical arguments to be made against the proposed gun control reform. However, discrediting the President because he has supposedly never fired a gun is not one of those arguments. Despite what many critics in the media have insinuated, you don’t need to shoot a gun in order to understand the gun control debate.

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