Saunders: Obama’s gun photo ill-advised

bsaunders@newsobserver.comFebruary 4, 2013 

“Say, what’d we ever do to you?”

That’s the question a generation of skeets is asking President Barack Obama after the White House released a photo of him blasting away at one.

The question the rest of us want answered is, “Why release a photo of the president firing a shotgun at anything?”

Sure, the picture of the president firing was released in response to skepticism of his claim that he goes skeet shooting “all the time” while chilling up at Camp David. Releasing it, though, was an ill-advised, unnecessary concession to critics.

Whether or not he hit the clay disc at which he was shooting, he ultimately missed the target.

With half the nation seemingly still in mourning over recent gun murders and massacres and the other half pondering where it, too, can get a Bushmaster AR-15, do we really need to see the president in that posture – leveling off at an obviously low-flying skeet with smoke billowing from his shotgun?

Far better it would have been had he been photographed laying flowers on the grave of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago 15-year-old girl gunned down a week after she’d marched as a majorette in his Washington inauguration parade. Or releasing doves into the air as a symbol of the peace we are unable to secure in our streets.

Placating?

Did someone at the White House really think a photo of the president firing a shotgun was going to placate the National Rifle Association? Will it make NRA shill Wayne LaPierre and others conclude “Oh, I was wrong. That O is aces with us.”?

Heck no. Even if O were the roughest, toughest, rootinest, tootinest cowboy west of the Rio Grande, he could never bring his most rabid detractors or the most rabid gun lovers to his side. So he darned sure shouldn’t be going over to their side – not even for a photo op.

What he should do, though, is continue spreading his message that no one who isn’t in the military needs 100-clip magazines and that everyone needs a background check before being allowed to purchase a gun.

I’m still waiting for the NRA to tell us how those two requirements represent attacks on the Second Amendment. They don’t, but as long as the NRA keeps our attention focused on “Does he or doesn’t he?” shoot skeet, it doesn’t have to tell us.

Besides, for the more conspiracy-minded, the picture will only confirm that the government wants to take their weapons. The NRA is probably printing up posters of O firing his weapon that say he is “taking aim at your gun rights.”

Dukakis in the tank

The picture of the president shooting a gun is not exactly a Michael-Dukakis-in-the-Army-tank moment, primarily because he doesn’t have to face re-election and run against it. Dukakis, for those of you born before the Internet, is the former presidential candidate who thought donning a helmet and climbing into an Army tank for a photo op would combat the dovish image that dogged him.

It didn’t. It made him look like a little kid playing “war” in his pappy’s big ol’ helmet.

In “Coward of the County,” Kenny Rogers sang “Son you don’t have to fight to be a man.”

Whoever released that damnable photo of the president needs to realize that neither do you have to fire a gun to be a leader. He was re-elected to be president – not Shaft. Or Yosemite Sam.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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