During a CNN town hall on guns, President Barack Obama on Thursday revealed that the First Lady considered owning a gun while they were campaigning in rural Iowa, reports TIME.
“At one point Michelle turned to me and said, ‘You know, if I was living in a farmhouse where the sheriff’s department is pretty far away and somebody can just turn off the highway and come up to the farm,’” he said during a CNN town hall on guns in America. “‘I would want to have a shotgun or a rifle to make sure I was protected and to make sure my family was protected.’”
Obama suggested that given that his family lives in Chicago — a city that has experienced over four dozen shootings over the past week alone, according to CNN — their perspective on guns was naturally different than someone who lives in a rural area.
The difference in opinion on guns across the country, the President said, is partially because “people occupy different realities” — both in terms of location and tradition.
The president spent much of his time during the hour-long event justifying his recent executive actions on guns and responding to questions from the audience about the impact on gun ownership.
President Barack Obama will answer questions Thursday evening on the thorny issue of the right to bear arms and the violence it sometimes begets in the form of mass shootings and terrorist attacks.
The forum comes two days after the president teared up during an announcement about executive actions on guns. He will participate in an hour-long televised town-hall-style meeting that will be moderated by CNN in a live question and answer session.
The presence of gun rights advocates, who accuse Mr. Obama of undermining the Second Amendment in a stealth effort to take guns away from law-abiding Americans, could lead to sharp exchanges. White House officials said the president welcomes the chance to have that debate.
“Let’s have a conversation,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “It’s a very effective way of separating fact from fiction. This gives him a chance to engage with people who are supportive and who question whether this is the right strategy.”
Ms. Jarrett said Mr. Obama had wanted to announce his executive actions on Tuesday “surrounded by people whose lives have been affected by gun violence.” But she said he also wanted to begin a broader conversation about what he views as the need for more gun regulations.
On Tuesday, the president announced a series of actions designed to overhaul the gun purchasing system to expand criminal background checks when purchasing firearms; seek more money for mental health care; and bolster reporting of missing or stolen guns, among other things.