On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the Obama administration’s stance on gun control, specifically regarding so-called “assault weapons” (typically, sporting rifles with specific cosmetic features). In response to a reporter’s inquiry, Earnest stated that President Obama is still making an argument for a ban on assault weapons, “increasing” background checks, and other gun control measures.
“You don’t need an assault weapon to go hunting,” the press secretary told reporters. “That certainly is not part of anybody’s family heritage or family tradition. And so these are the kinds of arguments that the President has been making for some time.”
Many Second Amendment advocates responded negatively to Earnest’s comments, arguing that firearms are used for more than just hunting. Gun rights supporters have long criticized lawmakers for what they see as an attempt to skew the gun control debate towards hunting instead of self-defense. Advocates say that hunting, recreational shooting, and the option of self-defense is all part of the right to be armed.
Gun rights supporters were even more shocked when Earnest seemed to indicate that the use guns for self-defense was only applicable in rural areas.
“The president also heard from those who said things to him like, when you live in a small town or out in the country, local law enforcement can be quite a ways away, and the desire to have a firearm in that kind of setting is a perfectly reasonable one and, again, entirely consistent with protected constitutional rights,” Earnest said.
However, he followed up by saying that “the president would also point out that in an urban setting, for example, or at least in an area that’s more densely populated, that there are different factors that are involved, and that even in the kinds of settings that are being described there in a more rural community there are still some common-sense things that we can do.”
Earnest’s lengthy response was directed towards a question regarding President Obama’s comments about gun control, especially after national tragedies such as the church shooting in Charleston last week. The reporter added that talking about gun control measures so soon can be a “put off” to people who were still grieving.
You can see the full briefing below. Skip to the comment on “assault weapons” around the 41-minute mark.