President Obama said Thursday night that conspiracy theorists have perpetuated a completely false narrative that every time he suggests tightening gun laws, he really wants to prevent all Americans from owning firearms.
"Yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy," Obama said after being challenged by CNN host Anderson Cooper, who moderated the network's "town hall" on gun violence in Virginia.
"What are you saying?" Obama pressed after Cooper seemed to suggest it may be true. "Are you suggesting ... the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody's guns away so that we can impose martial law?" he asked. "Yes, that is a conspiracy; I would hope that you would agree with that."
"Is that controversial except on some website?" he said sarcastically in answering Cooper's question that he thinks such suggestions are the definition of a conspiracy theory.
"I am only going to be here for another year," he continued. "When would I have started on this enterprise, right?"
"So yes, it is a false notion that I believe is circulated for either political reasons or commercial reasons in order to prevent a coming together among people of good will to develop common-sense rules that will make us safer while preserving the Second Amendment," he said.
"'Well, the president secretly wants to do X,'" he continued, arguing that accusations that he really wants to do something more devious are ridiculous.
He said that when he proposes removing unsafe drug from the market, he isn't secretly trying to control the drug industry.
"What's more likely is that I just want to make sure that people are not dying by taking bad drugs," he said.
Obama said the root of such theories is a basic American distrust in government that predates the Revolution.
"This notion of a conspiracy out there and it gets wrapped up in concerns about the federal government," he said.