Barack Obama said that at Camp David he and his guests "do skeet shooting all the time". Photograph: The White House/Getty ImagesThe White House has released a photo of President Barack Obama firing a shotgun in a bid to dispel rumours that he had lied about his shooting exploits.
In an interview last week, the president told New Republic that firearm control advocates had to do "more listening" to rural Americans. In a bid to bolster his claim of not being completely against guns, Obama also told reporters that he went skeet shooting "all the time".
That claim was met with scepticism from some of his detractors. "If he's a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen the photos? Why hasn't he referenced this at any point in time?" Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn asked on CNN.
Such demands for proof should be satisfied with the release of the photo, which dates from 4 August 2012 and shows Obama shooting at clay targets on the range at Camp David. However, there will no doubt be a few remaining sceptics scouring the image for signs of doctoring.
Questions over whether the president had fired a gun were raised as part of an interview on his gun control views by the New Republic.
Asked if he had ever personally fired a gun, the president replied: "Yes. In fact, up at Camp David we do skeet shooting all the time". He said that his daughters, Sasha and Malia, were not included in the clay pigeon shoots at the presidential retreat, but "oftentimes guests of mine go up there".
Obama has sought to allay fears from some Americans, particularly those in rural areas, that he intends to take away their firearms as part of a broad package aimed at curbing gun violence in the US.
"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 uncles, and that became part of your family's traditions, you can see why you'd be pretty protective of that," he told interviewers.
Obama added that he supported "the right of responsible gun owners" to own firearms, but reaffirmed his belief in the need for greater controls.
Earlier this month, the president presented a package of measures that includes bans on the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity clips, alongside improved background checks on would-be owners. It comes after the deaths of 20 children and seven adults at the Connecticut school shooting in December, an attack that has led to a fresh attempt to address gun violence.
However, during the New Republic interview, Obama said that gun control advocates "have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes".
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