President Barack Obama revealed last night that he’s never owned a gun but said that doesn’t mean he’s spearheading a ‘conspiracy’ to take away other Americans’ constitutional right to purchase firearms.
‘I respect the Second Amendment,’ Obama said during a town hall hosted at George Mason University by CNN. ‘I respect the right to bear arms. I respect people who want a gun for self-protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship.’
The rhetoric around his gun control agenda, Obama said, ‘is so over the top, and so overheated.’
The town hall took place just down the road from the headquarters of the top gun lobbying group in the country – the National Rifle Association – but it declined to participate in the event.
‘I’ve said this repeatedly I’m happy to meet with them. I’m happy to talk to them,’ Obama said, ‘but the conversation has to be based on facts and truth and what we’re actually proposing, not some…imaginary fiction in which Obama is trying to take away your guns.’
He then proceeded to bash the organization, claiming during the town hall that it is has a ‘stranglehold’ on Congress in the gun debate.
Obama attributed spikes in gun sales after mass shootings in part on the NRA, which he says has ‘convinced many of its members that somebody is going to come grab your guns.’
Their messaging ‘it really is profitable for the gun manufacturers,’ he said, and ‘it’s a great advertising mechanism, but it’s not necessary.’
The Democratic president said that the NRA and many members of the Republican Party were previously in favor of background checks, and his ‘proposals are not particularly radical.’
‘What’s changed is we’ve suddenly created an atmosphere in which I put out a proposal like background checks or…a proposal that is common sense, modest, does not claim to solve every problem, is respectful of the Second Amendment, and the way it is described is that we’re trying to take away everybody’s guns.’
Factoring into his decision to take CNN up on its offer to host the town hall, Obama said, was his belief that position ‘is consistently mis-characterized.’
‘And by the way, there’s a reason why the NRA is not here. They’re just down the street. And since this is the main reason they exist, you’d think that they’ be prepared to have a debate with the president,’ he said.
The NRA was not represented at the event by choice.
‘The National Rifle Association sees no reason to participate in a public relations spectacle orchestrated by the White House,’ spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN.
The gun rights group initially claimed the White House ‘organized’ the event, but CNN says it did not.
The White House also stressed this week on every occasion the event has came up that the president’s only role in the town hall was a participant.
In the nearly 75-minutes at the prime-time event Obama took questions from Americans on both sides of the gun control debate, several of whom are known for their outspoken views on the issue.
Taya Kyle, the widow of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle, astronaut Mark Kelly, who founded Americans for Responsible Solutions with his wife, Gabby Giffords, a former congresswoman who survived a potentially gun shot wound to the head in 2011, and Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, now running for Congress as a Republican.
The president was also questioned by Kimberly Corban, who was raped during college and now favors fewer firearms restrictions.
‘Your story is horrific. The strength you’ve shown in telling your story and, you know, being here tonight is remarkable…really proud of you for that,’ Obama told Corban during the town hall. ‘I just want to repeat that there’s nothing that we’ve proposed that would make it harder for you to purchase a firearm.’
Obama said recalled during the town hall that when he was campaigning for office and he and Michelle visited farms in rural Iowa, his wife told him, ‘If I was living in a farmhouse where the sheriff’s department is pretty far away and somebody can just turn off the highway and come up to the farm, I’d want to have a shotgun or a rifle to make sure that I was protected and my family was protected.’
Read more: Daily Mail