Nightly News   |  February 02, 2013

White House releases photo of Obama skeet-shooting

After President Obama told a magazine that he shoots skeet at Camp David, critics and reporters demanded proof. The White House released a photo Saturday of the president in action. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> good evening. with president obama leading the uphill charge for stricter gun laws in this country, a photo of him firing a shotgun that emerged on an otherwise quiet saturday morning is raising more than a few eyebrows. the photo of the president engaged in some sport shooting was released by the white house to answer some of his critics on the pro gun side but others wonder whether the picture could prove to be an unnecessary distraction coming at a critical time in the gun control debate. nbc's kristen welker is at the white house tonight with the photo and the story behind it.

>> reporter: lester, good evening. the gun debate took a detour this week when president obama said he likes to shoot skeet at camp david . gun rights advocates called for proof and today the white house provided it. it's not a picture you see every day, and it's several months old, but white house press secretary jay carney felt the need to release this photo on twitter today.

>> finally? they finally dug up some evidence?

>> it's an image of president obama shooting skeet at camp david on his birthday back in august. all this after an interview published sunday in which the new republic asked the president, have you ever fired a gun? mr. obama responded, yes, in fact, up at camp david , we do skeet shooting all the time. and i have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. comedians pounced.

>> you can barely hear yourself think over all the shooting of skeet.

>> reporter: and some gun rights advocates accused the president of deception while campaigning for stiffer gun control laws. republican congresswoman marsha blackburn took a tongue in cheek approach.

>> i think he should invite me to camp david and i'll go skeet shooting with him and i bet i'll beat him.

>> reporter: the questions persisted through the week as the administration declined to provide details about the frequency of mr. obama's skeet shooting .

>> i would prefer yrefer you simply to his comments. i don't know how often. he does go to camp david with some regularity but i'm not sure how often he's done that.

>> reporter: today the white house aimed to put the matter to rest but within minutes the twitter lit up. larry sabato , how many innocent skeet were sacrifice ford one lousy p.r. photo? the president's former top adviser, attention skeet birthers. make our day. let the conspiracies begin. the nra weighed in. one picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun control scheme imaginable.

>> it's really absurd that at this point the debate over serious gun control legislation is boiling down to whether or not the president has ever fired a weapon before.

>> reporter: now, white house officials dispute the nra's characterization of president obama 's policies, saying he strongly supports second amendment rights. as for that challenge by congressman blackburn one white house official tells me president obama would probably lose that competition, noting skeet shooting is not something he's done his entire life. lester?

>> all right. kristen, thank you.