In an interview with The New Republic, Obama says he has "a profound respect" for the tradition of hunting that dates back for generations.
"And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake. Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas," he says.
Obama has called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and is pushing other policies following the mass shooting last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. In response, gun-rights advocates have accused Obama and others of ignoring the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
The president says it's understandable that people are protective of their family traditions when it comes to hunting.
"So it's trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months. And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes," he says.
Has Obama himself ever fired a gun?
"Yes," the president says, "in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time."
His daughters don't shoot skeet at the presidential retreat in Maryland, he adds, "but oftentimes guests of mine go up there."
The interview appears in the Feb. 11 issue of The New Republic.