By Alicia M. Cohn - 01/09/13 08:12 PM EST
The White House officially responded to a petition to deport Piers Morgan on Wednesday by defending the CNN anchor's right to free speech regarding the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
"Let’s not let arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First," White House press secretary Jay Carney wrote in the response. "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 White House has promised to officially respond to any petition that garners more than 25,000 signatures on its We the People website. The petition to deport Morgan, a U.K. citizen and CNN anchor, has almost 110,000 signatures. Carney, in his response, thanked signers for "participating" by speaking out on the White House petition site.
"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," the petition reads.
Morgan has used his CNN show "Piers Morgan Tonight" as a platform to promote gun control in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Concern over gun regulations following the elementary school shooting there prompted several other petitions on the We the People site calling for the administration to act on gun legislation.
Obama responded personally to those petitions last month, in a video that Carney linked to in his response to the Morgan petition.
"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," Carney said. "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."
One of the people behind the petition to deport Morgan is Alex Jones, a syndicated radio host and pro-gun advocate. Jones on Wednesday challenged Morgan to a moderated debate on the subject of gun rights. The invitation follows a contentious appearance by Jones on Morgan's CNN show Monday night.