JANUARY 29, 2013
The skeet shooter among the pigeons
BY WES PRUDEN
Barack Obama is really just one of the guys. He wants to take away Joe Sixpack’s guns, but he wants everybody to know that he’s a shooter and intends to keep his own shootin’ iron.
Mr. Obama hunts pigeons, not deer or ducks or even pigeons with feathers, but clay pigeons. He’s quite a marksman in a sport that attracts even the country-club elites. “Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” he says. “ I have a profound respect for the traditions that trace back in this country for generations, and I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake.”
No more about “God and guns” this week. He learned his lesson about that one. This ain’t San Francisco. In an interview with New Republic magazine, he sounded like he might join the National Rifle Association if only someone would ask him. “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 traditions, you can see why you’d be pretty protective of that. “
But he took pains to say neither of his daughters, 11 and 14, join him and the guys for a round of skeet shooting. He wouldn’t dream of exploiting children, at least not his own. Nevertheless, trapshooting, as hunting for clay pigeons is formally called, is popular with the ladies. The president might not know there’s a Trapshooting Hall of Fame and many women have been honored with membership.
Some of the loudest and shrillest Democrats in the campaign to disarm those who don’t get to shoot pigeons at Camp David are now discovering repressed memories of happy days with a trigger. Joe Biden, the vice president and the man Mr. Obama put in charge of his disarmament campaign, boasts that he owns a shotgun. No word yet on whether he frightens the clay pigeons in his neighborhood.
More secret gun owners are expected to slip out of the closet in coming days, now that the president has put his seal of approval on hunting and shooting, at least in certain highly restricted and supervised circumstances. We might even see Michael Bloomberg and Dianne Feinstein posing with their Red Ryder BB guns. The mayor sometimes gets to hold one of the guns worn on the hips of his bodyguards, and Mrs. Feinstein, who so far as we know does not “carry,” is always at risk of getting smacked with an errant omelet pan when she strolls the streets of San Francisco.
The mayor’s bodyguards recently hassled a reporter, Jason Mattera of Talk Radio Network, for asking His Honor whether “in the spirit of gun control, will you disarm your entire security team?” The mayor replied with the familiar eloquence of the politician cornered by an embarrassing question: “Umm, uh, we’ll get right back to you.”
The mayor didn’t, but his bodyguards did, asking the reporter for his identification, his address and the date of his birth, not necessarily to send a birthday present or even a card. Mr. Mattera, famous for asking the impertinent questions that all reporters once routinely asked, once so provoked Joe Biden that the vice president all but challenged him to pistols or sabers at dawn under the dueling overpass somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey, where almost anything with guns and knives can happen, and often does. “Let’s get it straight, guy,” the veep told him. “Don’t screw with me.”
The natives are definitely getting restless. The White House received a petition Monday from a group called “We, the People” (not necessarily the same We the People in the Declaration of Independence, but a reasonable facsimile thereof) asking that, in the spirit of the times, all government officials, from the president on down, forgo their armed government bodyguards. The idea, obviously, is that if the congregation can’t defend itself with a gun, the preacher shouldn’t, either.
Despite the president’s caution and compassion, the campaign against guns continues. Louis Farrakhan, the eminent divine, noted constitutional scholar and leader of the Nation of Islam, told his congregation Sunday that the Second Amendment is irrelevant and the right to bear arms is a right for the trash bin. It might be dangerous to the government. He's been building to the idea. “This nation was built on violence,” he said in a sermon a couple of weeks ago. “Uncivilized, uncultivated, brutal, wild . . . “
And that was just the good part. No wonder the president and his veep have armed themselves against the pigeons.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.