WASHINGTON — Two days before President Barack Obama's first trip outside Washington to promote his gun-control proposals, the White House tried Saturday to settle a brewing mystery by releasing a photo to back his claim to be a skeet shooter.
Obama had set inquiring minds spinning when, in an interview with the New Republic magazine, he answered "yes" when asked if he had ever fired a gun. The admission came as a surprise to many.
"Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," Obama said in the interview released last weekend, referring to the official presidential retreat in rural Maryland, which he last visited in October while campaigning for re-election. Asked whether the entire family participates, the president said: "Not the girls, but often times guests of mine go up there."
Obama never mentioned skeet shooting prior to that interview.
The White House photo released Saturday is dated Aug. 4, 2012. The caption says Obama is shooting clay targets on the range at Camp David. Obama is seen holding a gun against his left shoulder, his left index finger on the trigger and smoke coming from the barrel.
The National Rifle Association, which has rejected Obama's proposals, scoffed at the photo.
"One picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun-control scheme imaginable," said Andrew Arulanandam, the organization's spokesman.
The NRA opposes Obama's call for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and says requiring background checks for all gun purchases would be ineffective because the administration isn't doing enough to enforce existing gun laws.
In Minneapolis on Monday, Obama plans to discuss his proposals with local and law enforcement officials during a stop at the police department's special operations center.