By Keith Laing - 01/08/13 05:02 PM EST
A heated on-air confrontation between broadcaster Alex Jones and CNN's Piers Morgan on Monday night capped a day of attention-getting controversy for the conservative radio host, who had earlier complained of being unfairly targeted by the Transportation Security Administration.
Jones later angrily debate Morgan over the CNN host's frequent calls for gun-control measures in the wake of the Newton, Conn., elementary school shootings that stirred national debate last month.
"1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms,” Jones said to Morgan. “It doesn’t matter how many lemmings you get out on the street begging for them to have their guns taken! We will not relinquish them! Do you understand?”
Jones has backed a petition on the White House website calling for Morgan to be deported for supporting gun-control measures.
Jones's run-in with the TSA occurred at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas on Monday afternoon, hours before he exploded on Morgan's show in a segment that quickly went viral on social media sites.
Jones's website argued the radio host was purposely targeted by TSA employees because he has sharply criticized the agency in the past.
"As soon as he approached security, Jones was addressed by a TSA screener who said, 'hello Mr. Jones,' indicating that she knew who he was, and immediately ordered him to remove his shoes," the website said.
"When Jones refused, citing the fact that innumerable other people had not removed their shows, the TSA screener claimed that only under 12s and over 75s were not mandated to remove footwear under TSA policy.
"When Jones contested the point, arguing that numerous travelers in their 40s had not removed their shoes, other TSA agents ordered him to take off his shoes, before Jones was approached by a police officer who immediately got in his face and started threatening him with arrest," the article continued.
"Despite Jones’ protests that he was clearly being discriminated against because he was a known critic of the TSA (the rest of the TSA screeners also knew him by name), the officer growled, 'Take your damn shoes off or I’m gonna arrest you.'"
TSA countered that it requires all passengers except seniors and children to remove their shoes.
"TSA’s objective is to mitigate risk in a way that ensures security measures while both promoting the safe movement of people and commerce and guarding against a deliberate attack against our transportation systems," the agency said in a statement that was provided to The Hill on Monday afternoon.
"The agency has implemented a number of risk-based security measures including modified screening procedures for passengers 12 and under, passengers 75 and older, and members of the military as well as TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry participants," the TSA statement continued. "All other passengers must undergo shoe screening and passengers with a disability or hindering medical condition who cannot remove their shoes can be screened using alternative methods.”
Jones's website has called for the TSA to be abolished.