President Obama is suggesting that House Republicans on the issue of gun control appear neither willing to work with him nor inclined to listen to the American public on the issue.
“The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they're really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies,” the president said in an interview with The New Republic.
Obama also said he can get 50 percent of public support for many of his upcoming initiatives, but “I can't get enough votes out of the House of Representatives to actually get something passed. … I think there is still shock on the part of some in the party that I won re-election.”
The president said he has a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that date back for generations.
He said that moving forward on the topic means understanding that the realities of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas.
He said it's understandable that people are protective of their family traditions when it comes to hunting so “gun-control advocates also need to do “a little more listening than they do sometimes” in the debate.
The interview appears in the Feb. 11 issue of The New Republic.
Obama also said one of the biggest factors in the gun-control debate will be how it is shaped by the media.
“If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it,” he said. “I think John Boehner genuinely wanted to get a deal done, but it was hard to do in part because his caucus is more conservative probably than most Republican leaders are, and partly because he is vulnerable to attack for compromising Republican principles and working with Obama.”
The president argued that “the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word” and that party leaders, including Senate Majority Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are “willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.”
Has Obama himself ever fired a gun? Yes, he says, he and others shoot skeet frequently at the president's Maryland retreat, Camp David.
The president also said much of the challenge in Washington is to make Americans feel that national politics is indeed connected to their day-to-day realities.
“And that’s not an unjustifiable view,” he said. So everything we do combines both a legislative strategy with a broad-based communications and outreach strategy to get people engaged and involved, so that it’s not Washington over here and the rest of America over there.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.