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CBS Touts Piers Morgan's Gun Control 'Crusade'; Morgan Boosts 'Really Draconian' Gun Bans

Piers Morgan, CNN Host; Charlie Rose, CBS News Anchor; & Gayle King, CBS News Anchor; Screen Cap From 10 January 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | MRC.orgThursday's CBS This Morning trumpeted Piers Morgan's "crusade against gun violence in America", and gave the CNN host four and half minutes to spout his pro-gun control views unopposed. Morgan endorsed implementing something akin to the "really draconian" firearms regulations that the U.K. passed after the 1996 Dunblane massacre.

Despite denying that he wanted to take guns away from Americans, the British anchor repeatedly called for complete bans on "assault weapons" and handguns, along with high-capacity magazines [audio available here; video below ]:

PIERS MORGAN: What [gun rights activists] try and do, is...frame anybody who wants more gun control as...attacking the Second Amendment, wanting to take all guns....That's not what this is about. I don't want to take an American's right away to defend him or herself in their home to defend their family. That's a sacred right to Americans, and I understand that and respect it.  What I do want to do is...get these assault weapons off the streets....These are killing machines. These are the nearest thing to a M-16 machine gun that you can have, and you have civilians arming themselves...with 100-bullet magazines, capable of mass murder in a minute. It's senseless....

1996 – in Dunblane in Scotland – 15, 16 five-year-old children were murdered by a gunman in their classroom. It was an exact parallel with Sandy Hook. Britain rose up in horror. It wasn't a political issue at all. That's why I'm amazed that it is here. Left and right came together, the public came together, and really draconian gun laws were brought in: a complete national ban on handguns, assault rifles, assault weapons. They were removed from the streets. Since then....Britain has, on average, between 30 and 45 – 50 gun murders a year ever since. America, in the same period every year, 11 to 12,000 people are murdered; 18,000 take their lives with guns; and 100,000 Americans are hit by gunfire every year. This is like the Wild West...

Prior to the Morgan interview, anchor Charlie Rose filed a report spotlighting how the CNN personality "lit a firestorm over his call for tougher gun laws" in recent months, even before the December 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The PBS veteran used the "crusade" term during this segment, and played six clips of Morgan, including an infamous segment where the British host attacked Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America as an "unbelievably stupid man."

Rose, along with co-anchor Gayle King, tossed many softballs at Morgan during the interview. The closest that they got to a tough question was when Rose pointed out how the CNN anchor promised "that if, in fact, they [the U.S.] didn't change the gun laws, you might go, on your own, back" to the U.K.

King also wondered why Morgan would bring on a 9/11 conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones onto his program. But the open Obama supporter didn't raise any objections when her guest lumped in more mainstream gun rights supporters with Jones:

GAYLE KING: But some people would say that when you have someone that extreme on, that that just, sort of, diffuses the debate, that, really, it doesn't – because it got so out of control so quickly, I thought.

MORGAN: But what it did do, you see – it trended worldwide on Twitter for 48 hours-

KING: Yeah, I saw!

MORGAN: And that means it's had a lot of eyeballs. I think the YouTube clip has been seen by five million people now. I want people to see the likes of Alex Jones; of Larry Pratt, who I had on last night; of Wayne LaPierre. This debate must be heard loud and clear, so that the arguments against gun control are laid bare for what they are, which, in my view, is a dangerous farce.

The CBS morning show's kid glove treatment of Morgan shouldn't be surprising, as they have boosted gun control as an issue over the past weeks. On Tuesday, Rose bizarrely wondered about "normal kinds" of mass shootings, in comparison to the Sandy Hook massacre, and spotlighted pro-gun control demonstrations.

The full transcript of the Piers Morgan interview on Thursday's CBS This Morning, including the lead-in segment:

GAYLE KING: As the Vice President's task force on gun violence considers new gun control laws, a prominent TV figure finds himself at the heart of the controversy.

CHARLIE ROSE: CNN's Piers Morgan has lit a firestorm over his call for tougher gun laws. Gun enthusiasts are trying to force him out of the United States, and even the White House is weighing in.

[CBS News Graphic: "Piers And The Petition: 100,000 Ask Obama To Deport CNN Host"]

MORGAN (from the July 20, 2012 episode of his CNN program): Let me just – let me just – no, let must challenge you on that.

ROSE (voice-over): Piers Morgan's crusade against gun violence in America started well before Sandy Hook.

MORGAN (to Bill Maher, from the February 28, 2012 episode of his CNN program): Ever since I've been in America, doing this show, from Gabby Giffords onwards, there have been regular incidents involving guns where-

ROSE: After July's shooting in Aurora [Colorado], he said the time for debate had passed.

MORGAN (from the July 20, 2012 episode of his CNN program): I'll tell you the date of the debate – it would have been yesterday, to prevent this happening.

ROSE: But it was last month's massacre in Newtown when Morgan's outrage boiled over.

MORGAN (from the December 14, 2012 episode of his CNN program): How many more kids have to die before you guys say, we want less guns, not more?

ROSE: The CNN TV host from Britain refused to contain his anger.

LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA (from the December 18, 2012 episode of CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight"): I honestly don't understand why you would rather have people be victims of a crime than be able to defend themselves. It's incomprehensible.

MORGAN: You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?

ROSE: Critics cried foul and petitioned the White House, calling for Morgan's deportation. More than 100,000 signed on. The White House responded Tuesday, saying, 'No one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment.'

All this week, Morgan has begun his show before a large 'Guns in America' banner, fully taking on the divisive issue – never more forcefully than when he met face-to-face with the radio talk show host who leads the call for his deportation.

ALEX JONES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST (from the January 7, 2013 episode of CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight"): And I'm here to tell you – 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms. It doesn't matter how many lemmings you get out there on the street begging for them to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them. Do you understand?

MORGAN: How many gun murders were there-

JONES: (laughs) Oh, you're going to ban your fist now?

MORGAN: In Britain last year?

JONES: How many chimpanzees can dance on a head of a pin? I already went over those statistics.

MORGAN: Do you know the answer?

JONES: No, I don't-

MORGAN: You said hundreds.

JONES: It's very low.

MORGAN: You said hundreds.

JONES: Yes.

MORGAN: It's actually 35.

JONES: Well, the point is you-
    
MORGAN: Against 11,000. Do you understand the difference between 11,000 and 35?

JONES: Hey – yeah. England wants to ban knives now-

ROSE: It's clear Morgan is ready for a long battle.

ROSE (live): Piers Morgan joins us now here in Studio 57. Welcome.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Thank you for having me. It's delightful – the setup you have here-

KING: Nice to have you here-

MORGAN: I'd expect nothing else. (laughs)

[CBS News Graphic: "Morgan Fires Back: CNN Host Defends Call For Stricter Gun Laws"'

ROSE: What have you accomplished?

MORGAN: Well, I think the main thing is that – normally after these massacres – I joined  – as I said to Gayle a little earlier, I joined CNN a week after Gabby Giffords was shot in the head, and I couldn't believe, coming from a country with very tough gun control, that the reaction was like a week of horror and mourning for the six who died, and for Gabby Giffords who, thankfully, survived, and then, everyone moved on and nothing changed.

And since then, massacre after massacre, and something has to give, and I think that the tipping point was Sandy Hook. And what I was determined to do – I thought, I know what's going to happen here. There'll be a week of mourning; there'll be a week of talk about gun control; the NRA and the other lobbyists will get behind the– if everyone would have been armed, it wouldn't have happened – debate as they always do. More guns will be sold, as they were in December; more ammunition will be sold; and so, this terrible spiral goes on.

What we've done, by keeping the agenda that we have this week, is we've made sure this hasn't gone away, and that's the crucial thing.

ROSE: And do you believe by having conversations or debates, like you did with Alex Jones, that that exposes what?

MORGAN: I think it exposes the reality of how a section of Americans feel about this debate, and what they try and do, is they try and frame anybody who wants more gun control as attacking the Constitution, attacking the Second Amendment, wanting to take all guns. You're not going to grab my guns. That's not what this is about. I don't want to take an American's right away to defend him or herself in their home to defend their family. That's a sacred right to Americans, and I understand that and respect it.  What I do want to do is a threefold thing: I want to get these assault weapons off the streets. My brother is a British army colonel. These are killing machines. These are the nearest thing to a M-16 machine gun that you can have, and you have civilians arming themselves – you saw with this shooter [James] Holmes in Aurora [Colorado], with 100-bullet magazines, capable of mass murder in a minute. It's – it's senseless.

KING: But some people would say that when you have someone that extreme on, that that just, sort of, diffuses the debate, that, really, it doesn't – because it got so out of control so quickly, I thought

MORGAN: But what it did do, you see – it trended worldwide on Twitter for 48 hours-

KING: Yeah, I saw!

MORGAN: And that means it's had a lot of eyeballs. I think the YouTube clip has been seen by five million people now. I want people to see the likes of Alex Jones; of Larry Pratt, who I had on last night; Wayne LaPierre. This debate must be heard loud and clear, so that the arguments against gun control are laid bare for what they are, which, in my view, is a dangerous farce.

ROSE: And what do you think of the White House's response to this issue of deportation?

MORGAN: Well, look, obviously, I woke up to discover the President wants me to stay in America. This is very bad news for the Americans, and very good news for the Brits. But, to be serious-

ROSE: But you had said that if, in fact, they didn't change the gun laws, you might go, on your own, back.

MORGAN: Well, I have a young family and, like anyone who has a young family, you're looking at all these things about – my daughter is 1 year old. When she goes to an elementary school, possibly in three years, do I feel secure? This is a half an hour here from Connecticut. And I decided, no, I'm going to make a stand on this, and it's not going to make me popular with some people, but I've also found a little support from people as well, because I think a lot of Americans felt after Sandy Hook – enough, and I think the President shares that view. And I think you've got to get rid of the assault weapons; get rid of the high-capacity magazines; deal with mental health, which is also part of this. But the NRA has got to have people standing up to it now and saying, you're not having it your own way anymore.

KING: Where does your passion for this come from, Piers?

MORGAN: 1996 – in Dunblane in Scotland – 15, 16 five-year-old children were murdered by a gunman in their classroom. It was an exact parallel with Sandy Hook. Britain rose up in horror. It wasn't a political issue at all. That's why I'm amazed that it is here. Left and right came together, the public came together, and really draconian gun laws were brought in: a complete national ban on handguns, assault rifles, assault weapons. They were removed from the streets. Since then, there have been two much smaller mass shootings. That's it in the entire 16, 17 years. There hasn't been a single shooting at a school. And Britain has, on average, between 30 and 45 – 50 gun murders a year ever since.

America, in the same period, every year, 11 to 12,000 people are murdered; 18,000 take their lives with guns; and 100,000 Americans are hit by gunfire every year. This is like the Wild West, and I just don't believe that the majority of decent, civilized Americans do not share my view that something has to give.

MORGAN: It's good to have you here.

KING: Nice to see you, Piers-

MORGAN: It's good to be here. Thank you.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.