What is Skeet Shooting and Why is Obama Doing It?

The White House recently released a picture of President Obama skeet shooting, a hobby he has supposedly taken a great liking to. Skeet shooting is one of the few gun related recreational activities that is also a competitive Olympic sport. Using shotguns, shooters attempt to hit clay disks flung through the air at high speeds — in part, meant to simulate bird hunting. In light of all the recent gun related massacres, and a tough new gun control agenda being debated by congress, it's quite telling that the White House would choose to release this picture.

As a senator, Obama took a lot of pro gun-control stances but when he became president this issue dwindled as a political priority. On September 2008, Obama said: "I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms … There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away." Despite this middle-of-the-road statement, gun sales skyrocketed for fear that imminent laws would surely come out of his administration. In 2009, Obama surprisingly signed a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons in national parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, and another which let people carry guns in their checked bags on Amtrak trains. By 2010, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave Obama an "F" grade for failing to enact any of the gun restrictions he campaigned on.

Ever the moderate, Obama still doesn't want to completely alienate proud gun owners, and so releases this picture that shows his "respect" for gun-culture sports. Perhaps, this is the best approach for passing legislation: defy the absolutists, take the politically nuanced approach and move policy forward. Slow and steady might have the most rationale as a style, but perhaps some situations call for bolder leadership.