President Obama takes Anderson Cooper, the NRA, and many others to task, labeling the idea he's coming to grab their guns a "conspiracy."
A feisty Barack Obama momentarily displayed a heated frustration when Anderson Cooper repeatedly suggested there might be some truth to the idea the President wants to take guns away from Americans.Â
Thursday night at a forum hosted by CNN,Â NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, standing with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords told the President that "when we testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, we heard not only from the gun lobby but from United States senators that expanding background checks will -- not may -- will lead to a registry, which will lead to confiscation, which will lead to a tyrannical government."
"So," Kelly continued, "I would like you to explain, with 350 million guns in 65 million places, households, from Key West to Alaska -- 350 million objects in 65 million places -- if the federal government wanted to confiscate those objects, how would they do that?"
The President told the audience that what Kelly was "alluding to is what I said earlier -- this notion of a conspiracy out there, and it gets wrapped up in concerns about the federal government.Â Now, thereâ€™s a long history of that.Â Thatâ€™s in our DNA.Â The United States was born suspicious of some distant authority."
And that's when Anderson Cooper asked a question that surprised many.
"But let me just jump in," Cooper interjected. "Is it fair to call it a conspiracy?Â I mean, thereâ€™s a lot of people who really believe this deeply -- that they just donâ€™t trust you."
And that's when the President got a bit heated and feisty.
"Iâ€™m sorry, Cooper, yes it is fair to call it a conspiracy.Â What are you saying?," President Obama asked, to applause. Â "Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybodyâ€™s guns away so that we can impose martial law?"
"Not everybody," Cooper responded, "but there is certainly a lot of people --"
"Is a conspiracy?Â Yes, that is a conspiracy," Obama strongly insisted. "I would hope that you would agree with that," he implored, again to applause. "Is that controversial except on some websites around the country?"
"There are certainly a lot of people," Cooper explained, "who just have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to get -- go further and further and further down this road."
"Look," the President said, turing from heated to mocking "I mean, Iâ€™m only going to be here for another year.Â I donâ€™t know -- when would I have started on this enterprise, right?"Â
Obama reminded America that there is no conspiracy to take their guns. https://t.co/jDfELJmdWD
â€” NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 8, 2016
PresidentÂ Obama also reminded the audience that "historically, the NRA was in favor of background checks.Â Historically, many in the Republican Party were in favor of background checks.Â And whatâ€™s changed is not that my proposals are particularly radical." Â
"Whatâ€™s changed is weâ€™ve suddenly created an atmosphere in which I put out a proposal like background checks," the President lamented, "we put out a proposal that is common sense, modest, does not claim to solve every problem, is respectful of the Second Amendment, and the way it is described is that weâ€™re trying to take away everybodyâ€™s guns."
The President also noted that "gun sales spike not just before I propose something -- every time there is a mass shooting, gun sales spike.Â And part of the reason is, is that the NRA has convinced many of its members that somebody is going come grab your guns -- which is, by the way, really profitable for the gun manufacturers."
He also expressed his disappointment that licensing and registration of guns is "an area where thereâ€™s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it.Â And part of it is, is peopleâ€™s concern that that becomes a prelude to taking peopleâ€™s guns away.Â I mean, part of the challenge in this is that the gun debate gets wrapped up in broader debates about whether the federal government is oppressive.Â And there are conspiracy theories floating around the Internet these days all the time."
Some responses via Twitter:
Even someone as respected as Anderson Cooper falls for the right wing fart machine. It's sad. As for... https://t.co/PKRWYHizfb
â€” Milt Shook (@MiltShook) January 8, 2016
President Barack Obama clowning Anderson Cooper on that conspiracy comment was hilarious. Don't come for POTUS if he didn't send for you.
â€” Nerdy Wonka (@NerdyWonka) January 8, 2016
â€” Justin (@bethejustin) January 8, 2016
Anderson: â€œIs it fair to call it a conspiracy? A lot of people believe it.â€ Jesus.
â€” Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) January 8, 2016