During an interview last week, the conversation came around to the issue of gun control, and President Obama was asked if he had fired a gun. In what was likely an attempt to smooth the raised hackles of gun owners and Second Amendment supporters, Obama answered, “Yes.” He then elaborated by saying, “up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.” I could almost hear the groans and sighs coming from his handlers, as they will now have to “prove” that what the president said was actually true. To that end, the White House has released an “Official White House Photo” purportedly showing President Obama trap shooting on the Camp David range.
This simple gesture has, however, opened up a rather large potential can of worms, something the White House has already taken steps to prevent. Realistically speaking, no political commentator sitting anywhere right of center and worth his salt, will pass up the opportunity to use this photo to poke fun at the president. It is a past time as American as apple pie and baseball, and something we, as Americans, are allowed to do. It is a right guaranteed by the Constitution in the First Amendment. A little something called “Freedom of Speech.”
As has become painfully apparent, however, the present administration (as well as more than a few members of Congress) have made it clear they care little for any law, much less the United States Constitution. In fact, President Obama himself signed into law HR 347 which makes free speech a federal crime in certain areas (to be determined by the secret service, without advance notice, and subject to change arbitrarily at anytime). In line with that mindset, the White House posted a warning along with the purported skeet shooting photo, which says,
“This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”
In other words, you can look at the photo, but it can only be published by “News Organizations.” Only Obama himself can print the photo, and you cannot use the photo in any commercial, political materials, emails, etc. The thing is, though, they can’t do that.
The photo is clearly labeled as an “Official White House Photo” and as a “United States Government Work” which places the photo into the public domain. It cannot be copyrighted as it is. The photo belongs to the American people, not to the government, not to the White House, and not to President Obama. The photographer, Pete Souza, is the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama, and is paid by the American taxpayer. Any official photography he does as the official White House photographer, while on “company time” so to speak, belongs to the American people and is in the public domain.
You don’t have to take my word on this, however, but the federal government says the same thing. According to the usa.gov website:
A United States government work is prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person’s official duties.
It is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work. Anyone may, without restriction under U.S. copyright laws:
- reproduce the work in print or digital form;
- create derivative works;
- perform the work publicly;
- display the work;
- distribute copies or digitally transfer the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.
[Please note that there are some exceptions to this (such as the use of official government logos, etc), and you should read the entire regulation at http://www.usa.gov/copyright.shtml]
In expectation of any naysayers such as myself, the White House Senior Advisor, David Plouffe, and the White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer displayed a degree of professionalism and political aplomb that has typified the Obama administration and the socialist progressives of the left – they immediately jumped on their blackberry’s this morning and began publically taunting and mocking any who dare doubt anything their pseudo-savior says. Nothing says tolerance like a stirred up rabble of leftists.
That all being said, I will now continue to throw caution to the wind, and point out a few things about the photo – with the use of visual aids, of course.
Yes, President Obama was at Camp David that bright and sunny Saturday last August, looking forward to quiet weekend celebrating his 51st birthday (yes, I know the photo shows no sun, but hey, the National weather Service says it was sunny and hot that day, so argue with them), but did he really go skeet shooting? Color me skeptical, but I’m going to have to say no. I think he really did hold a shotgun, and he really did shoot it, but I think it was nothing more than a photo op – something to be used if necessary. We’ve all seen the plethora of campaign photos of various candidates pretending to be shooting at a range or out hunting somewhere (or just firing into the air if you’re Rick Perry). I’m not saying these folks don’t shoot or hunt, but the photos are all staged photo ops and nothing more. And that’s what I think this is. If Perry and Santorum can hold a gun and appeal to us country bumpkins to get our vote, then so can Obama. The only real difference is, Perry and Santorum were wearing outdoor type clothing, and Obama wears a polo shirt. Hey, at least Obama actually fired the shotgun he was holding. Of course, it looks more like he was shooting a smoke producing blank than an actual shotgun round, but in political publicity shots, it’s all about what you think you are seeing, not what is actually happening.
In looking at the photo I also noticed something else. He isn’t really aiming. Look at the photo below, in which I have flaunted the White House warning by placing a straight line along the shotgun sights. It clearly shows that he is not sighting in on a target. I could give him the benefit of the doubt, and say that he just might be that good of a shot and he only has to point and shoot, but wouldn’t that be just a little bit dangerous? (and the left thinks Dick Cheney is dangerous with a gun!).
And what’s up with the dark glasses? The vast majority of skeet shooters that I know and have met, all use vision enhancing shooting glasses with yellow lenses, or clear lenses. They want to see what they are shooting at, especially on days where the sun isn’t shining – like the day Obama’s skeet shooting photo was taken. Dark glasses like the ones Obama is wearing tend to obscure the target by keeping the shooters field of vision darker.
No, I’m going to have call sheep dip on this photo. It’s clearly a staged photo op and nothing more. I think it is clear that Obama doesn’t know any more about trap shooting than he does about the Constitution. Or leadership. Or running a country. Or being a president. Or history. Or geography. Or…