Less than a week after the Sandy Hook shooting, CNN host Piers Morgan got into a heated debate with Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, which you can see part of below:
Shortly after, a movement to deport Morgan, a British citizen, for "attacking the Second Amendment, appeared on the White House's "We the People" petition website.
It was, and still is, stupid. But it achieved the magic number of 35,000 signatures within 30 days, which meant that the White House had to respond to it. This is, in part, that response:
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.
The fact that a movement to deport someone for having an opinion came up, and actually became a thing, astounds me. That there were, and still are, people who were willing to ignore the First Amendment to "protect" the Second ("That man had a thought that wasn't congruent with mine! Get him!") seems insane, especially considering that the original petition cited Morgan's vehement disagreement with the Second Amendment to be "undermining the Bill of Rights."
The White House didn't come out and call this petition flat-out stupid—but they damn well should have.
In adjacent apartments that resemble broom closets with windows, three young, ambitious neighbors come together to discuss,… More