The White House has released a photo of US President Barack Obama firing a shotgun, looking to put to rest scepticism over his recent comments to a US magazine that he went skeet shooting “all the time".
The photo, which was published on the White House’s official Flickr account on Friday, shows the president skeet shooting at a range at his Camp David residence.
In an interview with the New Republic magazine last month, Obama showed sympathy for hunters as he pushed for tighter gun controls after 26 people were killed at a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December.
Obama's aides were in the awkward position of standing by his comments while resisting reporters' demands for proof that he was indeed a regular on the shooting range at the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains.
The White House finally weighed in with a photo of Obama skeet shooting on August 4, 2012.
"For all the 'skeeters'," Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said in a Twitter message linked to the photo, which showed the president - wearing sunglasses, jeans and noise mufflers on his ears - firing a shotgun with smoke spraying from the barrel.
When the New Republic asked Obama last month if he has ever fired a weapon, Obama responded, "Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," Obama said.
"The whole family?" he was asked.
"Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there... and I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake."
Obama's comment was widely seen as an attempt to reach out to gun owners to ease their concerns about his legislative proposals, the biggest gun control push in decades. He will travel to Minnesota on Monday to speak on gun control.
The National Rifle Association, which has rejected Obama's gun control proposals, scoffed at the photo.
“One picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun-control scheme imaginable,'' said Andrew Arulanandam, the influential gun rights lobbying group's spokesman.
The NRA opposes Obama's call for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and says requiring background checks for all gun purchases would be ineffective because the administration is not doing enough to enforce existing gun laws.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies