Many conservatives were skeptical beforehand, but CNN's town hall forum on Thursday served as a way for President Obama to face tough questions from critics who believe his new gun-control regulations are infringing on the Second Amendment.
In the hour-long forum, hosted in front of a live audience by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Obama was challenged by Cooper and gun rights activists to defend his new executive actions on gun dealers, although he also got support from some supporters who advocate for more gun control.
In total, Obama faced seven questions from audience members, all of whom are tied to some instance of gun violence, including former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Of the seven questions, three were critical of Obama's new gun regulations, three were sympathetic, and one was a young adult solicited advice for other young people growing up "surrounded by poverty and gun violence."
The rest of the questions were posed by Cooper, who was mostly critical and asked Obama whether his actions would actually deter potential criminals determined to engage in mass shootings, and confronted him with the reality that many people simply do not trust him on Second Amendment rights.
Taya Kyle, widow of famed Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, told Obama she didn't believe expanded background checks, part of the president's new regulations, would deter criminals. She suggested that he has played up the threat of gun violence in the U.S., which has seen a continual decline in such violence in recent years.
Kimberly Corban, a mother and rape victim, said to Obama, "Why can't your administration see that these restrictions that you're putting to make it harder for me to own a gun, or ... making my kids and I less safe?"
A recurrent criticism of gun-control advocates, usually cited by conservatives, is that they do nothing to address mental illness, an affliction of many people who commit violent crimes with guns.
Arizona-based Sheriff Paul Babeu, a Republican running for Congress, confronted Obama on the issue. "How do we get those with mental illness, and criminals, that's the real problem here, how are we going to get them to follow the laws?"
Obama's answers to the critical questions were mostly even-tempered, offering that his new regulations are not meant to eliminate gun violence but to begin "progress" in that direction. His plan attempts to clarify that anyone selling guns for a profit is subject to administering federal background checks on buyers.
At one point, however, he did show some irritability at the notion that his administration is interested in confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens. When Cooper asked him if it was fair suggest his administration's skeptics are conspiracy theorists, Obama said yes.
"I'm sorry, Cooper, yes. It is fair to call [it a] conspiracy, what are you saying?" Obama said. "Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody's guns away so that we can impose martial law — yes, that is a conspiracy! I would hope that would agree with that."