Piers Morgan's ongoing battle with the American gun lobby, expressed in often bruising debates with gun rights activists on his CNN show, has won the British-born host as many friends as it has enemies. Well, almost as many friends...
Over the past two years, a period which has seen some of the worst mass gun violence in American history, Morgan's combative style and willingness to dismiss the often facile arguments of America’s well-funded gun lobby, has sparked a backlash from Conservative bloggers and on Twitter, with some of his opponents even organising a White House petition to have the journalist deported from US shores.
On Thursday, Morgan's latest book, Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God and George Clooney, hits the shops, detailing much of the author's battle over gun rights.
In one extract, he describes a typically difficult encounter with Alex Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist who likened contemporary attempts to limit firearms with the American revolution of 1776.
Tonight’s guest Alex Jones arrived just before we went live on air, and was already working himself into a fearful frenzy – stomping around my studio, sweating profusely, and talking to himself like a UFC cage fighter seconds before a fight started.
“Why do you want me deported?” I asked when the interview began.
And off he went, ranting and raving like a gorilla at the zoo that’s just seen the morning bucket of bananas arrive.
“Hitler took the guns, Stalin took the guns, Mao took the guns, Fidel Castro took the guns, Hugo Chavez took the guns. And I’m here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try and take our firearms!”
I sensed that Jones’s extraordinary behaviour was turning into a more powerful advocate for gun control than anything I could possibly say. He owns 50 guns – a comforting thought.
Here's are some of Morgan's biggest clashes over American gun rights.