Veteran game-show host of The Price is Right and World War II aviator Bob Barker, 89, was surprised to learn that he was on the National Rifle Association list of celebrities who have “lent their name and notoriety to anti-gun causes.” “I am very opposed to hunting,” he told TIME in an exclusive interview. “I suppose that the NRA heard about my efforts to end that terrible pigeon shooting in Pennsylvania and decided I was opposed to guns. Not true.”
In fact, Barker says the NRA’s characterization of his position is not right; Barker has just lent his name and support to animal-rights causes. He has given PETA $4 million, and they named their Los Angeles office in his honor. He donated money to SHARK, a nonprofit animal-protection group, and wrote letters to state legislators in opposition to live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania — the last state where pigeon shoots are held openly, according to the Humane Society.
A couple of years ago, Barker was in the news when he collapsed from dehydration at a California shooting range. He learned to shoot skeet as part of his training as a Navy pilot and has been shooting ever since. He keeps a .38 revolver on his bedside table for protection. He doesn’t think people need assault weapons or high-capacity magazines. “It’s perfectly all right to have a revolver by my bed,” he said. “If someone is prepared to attack me, I’m prepared to defend myself. I don’t need an assault weapon for that. I’m a pretty good shot.”
Now, he says, he hopes he will be taken off the NRA list. “I’m very much in favor of the Second Amendment,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate that Obama is using this tragedy to go after guns. If there’s a sensible solution, I would be in favor of it, but this idea of making it difficult for law-abiding citizens to have guns is ridiculous.”