CNN's Piers Morgan on Tuesday went head-to-head with the executive director of a pro-gun organization, at one point calling him a "dangerous man" who brings "shame" to his country in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Larry Pratt, head of Gun Owners of America, started off his appearance on "Piers Morgan Tonight" by saying America needs to "ban gun control laws that keep people from being able to protect themselves."
"The problem is not going to go away if we ban this or that gun," Pratt said. "We've tried that, that doesn't work. Doesn't even work in England. You have mass murders there all over Europe, there have been mass murderers."
Morgan said Pratt was talking "complete and utter nonsense" and said the gun murder rates in Britain, Germany or Australia are far lower than that in the U.S. -- "75 against 12,000 in Australia."
Pratt conceded that the gun murder rate in those countries is indeed lower than the U.S., but that the violent crime rate is higher.
"America is not the Wild West that you are depicting. We only have the problems in our cities, and unhappily, in our schools where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves," he said. "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."
"You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?" Morgan asked.
Pratt shot back that Morgan was being "morally obtuse," adding: "You seem to prefer being a victim to being able to prevail over the criminal element. And I don't know why you want to be the criminal's friend."
"What a ridiculous argument. You have absolutely no coherent argument whatsoever," Morgan said. "You don't give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America? You don't actually care. All you care about -- "
Pratt cut in that Morgan was ignoring the facts.
"What we do know is that when you go to an area of the United States where guns are freely available, readily able to be carried legally, there you find our lowest murder rates, lower than the murder rates in Europe. You go to our cities where we have cracked down on guns, and that's where criminals have a field day," he said.
Morgan later said he wasn't arguing about Americans' rights to defend themselves in the home, but that there is "no use and no justification for these AR-15-type assault weapons."
"There are these assault weapons which have been used now in movie theaters, in shopping malls, in elementary schools to murder many, many Americans," he said. "Your only answer, Mr. Pratt, to people that want to get rid of both the magazines and these assault weapons, if I'm not mistaken is to let everybody else have similar weapons. Is that the solution to America's gun murder problem?
Pratt said Morgan was "talking against self-defense" and "against people being able to protect themselves."
"Post what happened at Sandy Hook," Morgan said. "Your answer to this problem of repeated use of this weapon with these high-capacity magazines is to continue letting Americans buy them with impunity, and to not concern yourself with these mass shootings, is that right?"
"The Second Amendment means what it says, and meanwhile, you want to continue laws against self-defense," Pratt said. "Laws that prohibit self-defense. Laws that prohibit teachers and other faculty, other members of the administration in schools from being able to defend themselves if they have a concealed carry permit. The laws prohibit them right now. We have been lobbying against those laws since they were put on. We will continue to do so, pointing out that that is where the problem is. And for you to support them means that you're really blind to the role that that plays in enabling murders to operate with impunity."
Morgan responded that he knows "why sales of these weapons have been soaring in the last few days -- it's down to idiots like you."
After Morgan thanked Pratt for coming on the show and prepared to go to commercial, Pratt thanked him for the "high-level argument...it's really good."
"You know what, you wouldn't understand the meaning of the phrase high-level argument. You are a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense and you shame your country," Morgan said.
CNN posted the entire segment on its website, minus the last few moments with Morgan's "shame your country" remark. NewsBusters published an edited version that includes the final moments (scroll):