The White House recently released a photo of President Obama skeet shooting at Camp David, after critics on the pro-gun side of the gun control debate questioned whether the president had actually fired a gun before. The photo is meant to erase the doubt and also push us to at least consider whether Obama likes guns. It was a statement, using a gun as a prop to seek political advantage in the gun control debate.
There is something to be said about a visual of a politician holding a firearm. We are used to seeing these men and women donning suit, shaking hands with others, and appearing so polished. Holding a firearm apparently stresses the point that these individuals can get down and dirty like the rest of us mere mortals.
What other instances have their been of politicians using guns as props to boost public relations for them?
1. Theodore Roosevelt
This image shows our nation's 26th president standing over a conquered rhino on a Kenyan Safari. After taking part in these hunting tours, Roosevelt ironically was very crucial in the conservation of over 230-million acres of American soil. This move set the stage for the U.S. national park system. So why is this photo important? It shows that a leader can have a change of heart from hobby to influencing legislation.
2. Ann Richards
The former Texas governor is seen here in East Texas hunting for doves in 1992. She was an avid opponent of concealed-carry laws. This image was meant to show her supporters that she did have a thing or two to say about rifles as well.
3. Michael Dukakis
That's no gun. It's a tank! Democratic presidential candidate Mike Dukakis decided to up the ante when he appeared in this M1A1 Abrams tank in October 1988. He chose to debut his toughness during a campaign stop in Flint, Michigan.
4. Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was originally hailed as the Republican Party's "Barack Obama" when he came to the scene. The jury is still out on that one, but this is not a bad start to begin appealing to the gun lobby and strengthening their support of him. Here, Jindal is posing with a Henry-lever action rifle in Arkansas at a fundraiser in June 2012.
5. Joe Manchin
Manchin used this visual to show the audience that he can talk about and take "dead aim" at political issues in the interests of his supporters — literally and figuratively. He pulls a bullet out of his pocket, loads it, and fires the weapon, all while managing to mention his NRA endorsement and promise to "cut federal spending and repeal the bad parts of Obamacare." Not bad for a 30-second ad.
6. Dale Peterson
In his bid for Agricultural Commissioner of Alabama, Peterson does quite a bit of showmanship to get his message across that he is the best choice. When he says, "we should be better than that," he conveniently displays a firearm and casually poses with it. The ad would seem to want the audience to believe that Peterson can take care of business and does so with the fortitude and resolve of a firearm. If that doesn't hook you in, perhaps the mentioning of his opponent bragging of receiving illegal money on Facebook better speaks to you.
7. Jon Kerry
No Republican presidential candidate has ever won an election without Ohio. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was aware of this and tried to use firearms to do something about it (in a peaceful way of course). Kerry is seen here with Ohio Rep. Ted Strickland, hunting in The Buckeye State in October 2004. It did not work, but hey, he was recently confirmed as our next Secretary of State.
8. Harry Reid
Working as Senate majority leader can be stressful and full of ups and downs. But Harry Reid seems to know the proper way to blow off some steam. He is seen here taking part in the opening ceremonies of the Clark County Shooting Park, a 900-acre facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Reid even brought along his own personal shotgun and used it at the event.
9. Sarah Palin
Maybe she was trying to prove that she does indeed see Russia from Alaska. And has actually defended us from them, COD-style.
10. Dick Cheney
We all know how this story ends.