If White House officials thought that releasing a photo of President Barack Obama skeet shooting at Camp David was going to persuade his critics that he liked guns too, they didn't have long to wait to find out otherwise. Scorn soon followed from the usual suspects.
No surprise there. After all, this is a president who produced his birth certificate and yet still couldn't stop some people believing he was born in another country. In the same vein, firing a shotgun at clay pigeons was never going to hit any helpful political target.
All the release of the photograph did was confirm that when Mr. Obama told The New Republic magazine that he had taken up skeet shooting as a hobby, something previously unknown, he was telling the truth. But why were some people so skeptical in the first place?
The reason is that the most extreme advocates of Second Amendment rights believe with gospel certainty that anyone who favors sensible restrictions on death-dealing assault weapons hates guns and wants to take all of them away. That theme runs through many letters to the editor and talk-show rants --and it is all a lie.
Plenty of gun owners enjoy hunting and marksmanship while at the same time recognizing that responsible gun ownership has no argument with sensible gun control measures respectful of everybody's rights. Whether it is the president or an ordinary citizen, there is nothing incongruous or hypocritical in enjoying shooting and in wanting to see the most dangerous weapons kept out of the wrong hands.
When Mr. Obama went to Minnesota this week to talk up banning military-style assault weapons and installing universal background checks, one photo was not going to make his task easier. But the knowledge that those who like to shoot are not all extremists will eventually wear down the anti-gun myth that has plagued those advocating change in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.