The Photograph of Barack Obama posing with a smoking gun, with his goggled eyes squinted in concentration, is clearly more significant than a mere presidential photo-op aimed at pleasing the gun lobby. Nor is it just an attempt by the White House to ‘undo the damage’, as it were, of his off guard comment on hunting. Skeet shooting at Camp David, purportedly Obama’s latest ‘hobby’, need not be at odds with his current preoccupation with bringing down gun sales and passing the law to put a blanket ban on the sale of automatic assault rifles and bullet magazines, despite overtures to the contrary. In fact, it could be a clever ploy to equate guns with defanged leisure and pleasure, rather than the obvious culture of violence which they have come to signify, and justifiably so.
Obama is definitely not emulating the earlier gaffes of John Kerry in camouflage or Mitt Romney aiming at rodents and rabbits, but he is redefining the gun-holder as someone suave, well-informed as well as respectful of the longstanding hunting tradition. In fact, Obama has turned skeet shooting into a sort of golf, a leisurely sport that is associated with brains and business, instead of brawn and aggression, although Obama’s version of it was couched in references to family and privacy, and not work. The photograph is sure to become an iconic image, and a testimony to the tough balancing act that the President has been doing since the gun massacres shocked and rocked America.