The White House has issued a formal response to the petition to deport British television host Piers Morgan for his outspoken views on gun control, chiding Second Amendment supporters to keep the First Amendment in mind too.
"The Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press -- fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy," wrote Press Secretary Jay Carney. "Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreements vigorously, but no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment -- or any other matter of public concern."
The petition was created December 21 on the White House "We the People" petition site. It quickly passed the 25,000 signature threshold required for an official response from the Obama Administration, ultimately garnering more than 100,000 signatures.
Morgan, who hosts the news show Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN, originally earned the ire of Second Amendment activists when he called the Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt an "incredibly stupid man" during an on-air interview. And earlier this week, Morgan was on the receiving end of a nasty rant, again by a guest, the prominent gun rights supporter and radio host Alex Jones, who swore "1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms!"
It is worth noting that the Supreme Court has generally held that non-citizens, including both legal and illegal immigrants and residents, are covered under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment.
Their conclusion almost always comes from the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause: "...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Here's the original video that sparked the petition:
The full White House response:
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO "Deport British Citizen Piers Morgan for Attacking 2nd Amendment" When Discussing the Second Amendment, Keep the First in Mind Too By Jay Carney
Thank you for participating in We the People to speak out on an issue that matters to you.
Let’s not let arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First. President Obama believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. However, the Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press -- fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy. Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreements vigorously, but no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment -- or any other matter of public concern.
We recognize that the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, sparked an intense, and at times emotional, national conversation about the steps we can take as a country to reduce gun violence. In fact, your petition is one of many on the issue, and President Obama personally responded by sharing his views on this important issue.
In a recent press conference, President Obama also addressed the Second Amendment and the important perspective that law-abiding gun owners bring to the public conversation on this issue:
Look, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that's been handed down from generation to generation. Obviously across the country there are regional differences. There are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible -- they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.
But you know what, I am also betting that the majority -- the vast majority -- of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I'm willing to bet that they don't think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas -- that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily; that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone's criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown -- or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.
The text of the original petition:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Deport British Citizen Piers Morgan for Attacking 2nd Amendment British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.