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December 19th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

John Engel remembers his cousin Olivia; Larry Pratt defends gun ownership

On Tuesday, in a live, emotional interview, Piers Morgan invited John Engel to share his memories of his younger cousin, Sandy Hook victim Olivia Engel.

Though Olivia's parents have chosen to stay away from the extensive media coverage, John reported that they feel the love pouring in from people around the country and the world.

"They've said 'this is tremendously supportive for us to know that we are not alone,'" Engel described.

Engel family friends have reached out with support by creating a Facebook page to support the family as they deal with their six-year-old daughter's death.

As those families impacted by the Newtown, Conn. tragedy attempt to move forward, America has intensified the conversation on firearms. On Tuesday, Engel offered his stance:

"I was uncomfortable with guns before I joined the military," Engel noted. "I slept with an M-16 in my sleeping bag for six months in Iraq. I came away from the war no more comfortable with that weapon, and I have to say that I don't think anybody ever gets comfortable with those weapons."

Engel couldn't leave the program without sending a strong message to all the families watching "Piers Morgan Tonight":

"Despite what I say about guns, and we should perhaps not have these guns available to us, I think the real way to keep this from happening again, is if everybody puts down the remote and they go and hug their child, kiss their child, their 20-year-old child. That 20-year-old child might have come out differently if he had had the warm and loving family that Olivia Rose has."

Also as part of Tuesday's show, "Piers Morgan Tonight" welcomed Larry Pratt – an outspoken voice in the effort to defend against stiff gun legislation – to share the perspective of those on that side of the issue:

"The fact of the matter is, with guns comes safety. If the guns are in the hands of the good guys. And when you say the good guys can't have guns, the bad guys have a monopoly, and horrible things such as the shooting at the schools take place," suggested the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America.

"America is not the Wild West that you are depicting. We only have the problem 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. 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."

Failing to agree with Pratt's perspective, Morgan exclaimed: "You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?"

To watch where the discussion went from there – and to hear more from Engel as he honors his cousin – watch the clips, and listen to the interviews.
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Filed under: The Big Story
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Dawn Drellos-Thompson

    Having a debate is one thing, but to call someone a name while interviewing him or her because you disagree with his or her position – is this considered high journalistic standards? Mr. Morgan, maybe the vitriolic way in which we speak and treat one another should be a topic along with gun control. The hate speech and the class warfare remarks by those in power and the news media create a hateful and unstable environment for all. I am a lincensed gun owner and I have no problem with debating this serious issue; however, I am concerned when people like yourself take your disagreement to a level of bulllying and disrespect. Your brand of journalism does not invoke a throughtful debate and nor does it educate listeners – but it sure does divide people creating serious ill will that provides, figuritively, the ammunition, or reason if you like, for unstable people to kill and hurt one another. I am outraged and hurt about the tragedy in Sandy Hook, but that does not justify me disrespecting others, and nor should it you.

    December 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • QuietStorm

      Piers talk way to much in every "interview" to sound smart – clearly he ran out of steam in this discussion and showed an appalling lack of preparation and personal control by calling his guest stupid.

      December 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Todd in AK

    Piers Morgan is embarrassing. This guys show is in the toilet and CNN could care less about the money it is losing on its network. You know how I know? This guy still has a microphone shoved in his hand. He cannot debate anyone without getting into personal attacks. When he is shown he is losing the debate he consistently starts name calling. Giving this guy 1 ounce of a podium to spew his American hatred from is embarrassing. I am so thankful CNN is going down the tubes. Just a little while longer and this network will cease to exist, along w/ this phone hacking thief of a host. I mean really. Isn't Piers Morgan late for spying on some poor soul across the pond?

    Laughable of CNN to continue this show. Cut the rope already and flush this fraud stealing your money.

    December 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. David Daniels

    This is supposed to be journalism? Regardless of one's position on guns or gun control, the idea that media figures such as this can be utterly contemptuous and vicious toward their guests is utterly repelling.

    Will CNN bother to apologize to its viewers for the horrific and hateful behavior of its host?

    December 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Chris Philips

    Piers Morgan isn't a journalist- he's a reality TV host. His only brush with "journalism" was editing a gossip column for a British tabloid. I guess that qualifies him for what counts for journalism at CNN, but it also contributes to the growing wave of low-information voters in this country- those who are still so naive as to expect "news" from CNN.
    Perhaps someone should remind Mr. Morgan that a bunch of hillbillies with guns kicked his country's a** a couple hundred years back. That victory cemented our right to keep on bearing arms. If this loudmouth wants us to give up our guns, maybe he and his countrymen want to take another crack at us.

    December 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • scully

      The pot calling the kettle black. You are "stupid", the right to bear arms over 200 years ago they didnt have semi-automatics where you could kill 50 people in a round fool. Dont take it so personally, Piers is angry and so he should be we all should be 20 innocent 6 year olds lost their lives and their parents hearts are broken, inciting a war you are "stupid", let go of the past none of us were around 200 years ago. Stop thinking about yourself "stupid"

      December 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Chris Philips

        I surmise from your clear and cogent argument that you were trained at the same school of journalism as Mr. Morgan, scully.

        December 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • scully

        I am a mother of 4 children, one of my children is 6 years old and this is the most delightful innocent age, children in America should have this right of innocence where the world is full of good not evil. I am not a journalist.

        December 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chris Philips

        Sorry: You felt justified in calling me stupid and a fool, so I naturally assumed you worked with Mr. Morgan in some capacity.
        I, too, am a parent, and my children also deserve to keep their innocence, scully. That said, I have taught them to look both ways befroe crossing the street, in spite of the fact that, as pedestrians, they have the right of way. Sometimes people don't follow the rules, and those are the times that it pays to be prepared.

        December 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • scully

        Inciting more violence in your statement is why I called you a fool and stupid. I have a 16 year old son so I have taught him to cross the street and look both ways but when he read about this massacre he could not understand it, no one can be prepared for this type of violence unless they have been trained in combat. I have not told my younger children about this violence as they have the right to enjoy their childhood as much as possible, and getting my younger children who have just learning to read and write to be prepared against a semi-authomatic gun assault your thought concept is totally whacked.

        December 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freedomfeen

      I guess that first amendment is irrelevant on the internet cause it was meant for printing presses. What a slave you are.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Jim

        This has nothing to do with the first amendment but with the quality and professionalism of CNN's "news" personalities.

        December 21, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. jpagotto

    Come on folks – If there was even a remote shred of logic to the argument that a solution is to arm teachers with assault rifles, I would agree being called "stupid" is uncalled for.... but for the love of god how insanely ridiculous do you need to be before its justified. Teachers would have to literally be carrying assault rifles all day long to have any use in such an incident ... are you Americans out of your freaking minds to even utter such nonsense? Call a spade a spade Piers – I don't think their feelings will be hurt ... just make sure they aren't toting a machine gun when you do! Proud and thankful to be living in Canada.

    December 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris Philips

      We're all glad you can live in Canada and comment on how a Brit thinks the US should be run. The brave administrator that threw herself at the gunman wasn't able to stop him, and lost her life in the process. Had she been trained in the use of a firearm and had one available to her, I guarantee you she could have stopped him.
      Those of you (Piers and jpagotto, for example) who rely on the Government for your protection are welcome to continue to do so. It seems to me that the weapons this young man used were stolen- i.e: he had broken the law, and was using illegally-obtained weapons. Your law making them illegal would not have stopped him.
      Apparently, Connecticut has a law on the books making clips of more than 10 rounds illegal- another law broken.
      Finally, I'm pretty sure murder is illegal in Connecticut- another law ignored.
      Your vaunted government protection is 0 for 3 on this one, jpagotto. Not a very good record. I'm not blaming anyone in the law enforcement or local government for this horrible event. No one could have foreseen this tragedy. That said, the government couldn't protect those poor kids, any more than the Norwegian Govt. could protect the 77 victims of the madman who used a car bomb (illegal- one law broken) and a legal hunting rifle last year.
      The bottom line is personal responsibility- a hallmark of the American spirit, which hasn't yet been broken by the liberalization of our society. The UK and Canada can keep their victim mentality. We'll keep the 2nd amendment, thanks.

      December 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Amanda Owen

        We non-Americans keep forgetting that only the U.S. has the right to an opinion on how other countries arm themselves.

        Our 'victim mentality' seems to keep the body count down, don't you think? It's actually pretty easy to not be a victim when the threat of facing a gun in one's face is highly improbable. Maybe it is too late for the U.S. to fix the damage done by flooding the country with killing machines, but pretending there is no gun problem has the rest of the word shaking its head.

        December 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • jpagotto

        Great job proving even further how illogical (I won't say stupid) the argument is – think about it – you say let the teachers 'pack heat' so they can take out a demented shooter as he is spraying them with bullets ? Seriously ? So this implies having them trained (ask any of your police officers how much they train to handle a gun under stress) hmmm that means your government would have to play a role here – they are public servants aren't they? So your solution requires government protection more than anything.

        And OF COURSE murders involve breaking laws what does that have to do with anything? And yes they happen in other countries .... But look at the facts 12000 gun related murders a year while most developed countries have less than a hundred at most. Wake up folks your founding fathers are turning in their graves over your abuse of their intent.

        December 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • scully

        Here Here jpagotto, Chris Philips thinks every American is trained in combat, his concept is flawed and out of touch with reality.

        December 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • eddie

        After reading some of the American correspondents above,I am convinced they are 'married' to their guns more then their spouses.They are so utterly stupid that for any intellectually superior 'foreigner' to convince them of facts and stats is like playing a guitar to a buffalo.If in any first world country 'brainwashing' is complete and comparable to North Korea,it has to be the US.Remember Obama Talked about them in 08 as 'sticking to their guns and religion',what the hell could they otherwise stick to??No Brains,without exception, ugly wives.Short of committing suicide,these folks have very few options.So please all of you intellectuals out there,stop wasting your time trying to convince these neanderthels of sanity.

        December 21, 2012 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
      • Jim

        Fortunately I and the majority of my fellow countrymen would never make the mistake of confusing you as an intellectual or a sane person.

        December 21, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jack in Telluride

    Piers Morgan brings discrace to journalism and CNN. Regarless of one's position on the issues, it is offensive and degrades the debate to have someone as unprofessional as Morgan at the microphone. As CNN attempts to change itself to re-gain profits and relevance, it would do well to send this obnoxious individual packing. Until then, my attention will continue to seek unbiased reporting and moderation in contemplating meaningful issues where more than one point of view exist.

    December 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mrwonderful1961

      You might want to try . . .

      September 14, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Austin Speed

    Piers Morgan can leave our country and go home anytime. I don't need to hear insults or flawed logic from a guy who thinks he has a superior accent.

    December 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. John S

    Come on guys how many more kids need to be shoot and killed in schools or how many more mall shootings does it take other countries laugh at us on how we proclaim how great we are at everything and we never admit our flaws. The right to bear arms doesn't mean to own a gun entirely it could me own a nuclear bomb or a army tank to kill does that sound silly tell me I'm glad I think Piers Morgan loves this country as much as anyone else but damn even the founding fathers would agree time to change the 2nd amendment really

    December 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dawn Drellos-Thompson

      Why don't you ask what gun Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma City bombing, Why don't use ask where on-demand psy services are in this country. Why don't you ask how many of these killers had mental issues and would have found other ways to kill people. And why don't you ask Morgan to write the perfect piece of legislation that guarantees no one will break into my home and assault, rob or kill me. Finally, why don't you ask people to stop calling each other names and use hate-filled language. It is easy to talk change, but where are the Morgans with the answers.

      December 20, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Russ Pettifer

        Apart from the straw man argument you're presenting, the world can't be viewed in such simple terms, and as simple as we'd like things to be there are other considerations. There are many ways to kill but even you'd have to agree that the US has a dangerous predilection to firearms and the discussion

        Any incident requires two separate and very distinct parts to come together – motivation (call it frame of mind) and opportunity. Laws are like locks – made for law abiding citizens only. If someone has a sufficient motivation there isn't any number of laws or regulations or penalty that will deter him. That leaves opportunity, and that is what the discussion is primarily concerned with when speaking of "control". If there are regulations on ownership that extend the waiting period, background checks, proper training for handling and safe storage, as well as limiting the type of ordnance available, that serves to limit the opportunity of a deranged person to acquire and use these weapons. And again – I'm not naive – that only limits the opportunity, but it is a start.

        December 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dawn Drellos-Thompson

        Russ, I found your arguments to be more simplistic than mine and, in fact, extremely academic. I am a licensed gun holder who passed an extensive background check and took extensive safety training. The guns used by Sandy Hook did not belong to the killer and the mother should have been more responsible – that is already legislated, so what now? I was a victim/witness specialist for homicide cases and have seen enough crime scene photos to know the harm that guns do. There are no more gun regulations to pass but outward bans on guns or gun types. The "dangerous predilection to firearms" in this country involves, by far, criminal activity and not the millions of lawful gun owners who have never shot anyone.

        December 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • freedomfeen

      Why does someone need ar 15's? To defend themselves against criminals like the shooter who have ar-15's. You can ban guns, but guess what, they will never go away. They will go underground, just like drugs. How's that drug war working out for ya? Keep drugs off the street? You can't even keep drugs out of prisons. Good luck keeping guns away from a market that demands them, the market is always greater than the government.

      You point the finger at peaceful gun owners yet you are the one advocating violence. For alll your solutions involve theft and coercion. Every government solution is paid for in stolen money and enforced with threat of violence. You are the violent one. There are two types of people in the world, those who are willing to leave others alone and let them be free so long as they are not harming anyone else. Then there are those that will not leave peaceful people alone. Statists like you hate freedom, you will not leave people alone will you?

      December 21, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Shawn

    CNN having Piers Morgan just comtinues thier political agenda. CNN doesn't report the news it reports thier political position. Why do TV news promoters think the British accent makes people smarter. If Larry Platt, Chuck Norris or Ted Nugent had been interviewed and called Piers names they would have shut off the microphone.

    CNN fire Piers Morgan and start reporting the news not trying to sway us toward your view point.

    December 20, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jack Pagotto

    One last advice from your concerned neighbours to the north – and i am being honest when i say that for the most part we really do care about America – history has shown that we have always been by your side on each and every conflict. YOU, the people of America, need to fix your gun situation, your politicians and media are puppets and history has shown they do nothing but sore rhetoric – it is an absolute disgrace to what should be the 2nd best country in the world – Canada is #1. :). – and the spillover effect is why Canada is in the top 5 highest # of gun murders.

    It seem the gun fanatics in your country and many gullible gun control advocates are missing a very key point about the "2nd amendment"... I keep hearing the blind 'rant' of "right to bear arms" and so I looked up the ORIGINAL full text as ratified by Thomas Jefferson ....

    Thimas Jefferson: "A well regulated militia necessary to the SECURITY OF A FREE STATE, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"

    December 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jack Pagotto

    Oops – finger fumble – I pushed publish too quick so I want o finish off by saying:

    Isn't it obvious that your original founding fathers intended the "right to bear arms" as being for a WELL REGULATED MILITIA and for the purpose of defence of STATE threats??! So how does this get distorted into assuming it means the kindergarten teachers should be able to arm themselves with machine guns for 'self defence' against criminals? Seems like a huge stretch of your original commanders intentions!

    December 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dawn Drellos-Thompson

      Jack, Why do you think that we still have a "free state" or free states. It was the NRA and guns that helped defeat the KKK who were terrorizing blacks in the south when the federal government refused to help. Obviously, Morgan feels safe enough to live and work in this country because if he did not, he would go back to England. Parts of Canada do a great job controlling the lack of diversity such as French speaking Quebec, but seem pretty free to dispense advice about what we in America do wrong.

      December 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. P Winkler

    Rude, crude, red nech behavior Mr. Morgan. After your appology, I may decide to wathc CNN once more....maybe.

    December 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Penny O'Connell

    I applaud Piers Morgan for taking a strong stand against gun violence int he United States. Our leaders should have done this long ago but politics and campaign contributions were given higher priority. Is Piers Morgan the only one not corrupted by politics and special interest groups who can tell the American people the truth? Why is it necessary for an Englishman to do pubically challenge the dubious rhetoric of the gun lobby? Piers Morgan and New York City Mayor Blumburg are on the right track – giving a voice to those of us who abhor the gun culture and the violence perpetrated on the innocent. Thank you, Piers Morgan for speaking up in an appropriate way on a passionate issue.

    December 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Harry

    Blimey! Piers Morgan is most assuredly NOT a journalist, nor does he qualify as a reasonable spokesman for a controversial political cause. In this interview, he shows himself to be an frothing boor, and so he loses his argument soundly. Is there no work for Morgan in crime-free London?

    December 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Rick

    Mr. Morgan, perhaps you should do some research. In areas with "right to carry" laws there is less violent crime. Check the FBI stats state by state. When "right to carry" laws were passed in each state, the violent crime started dropping in that state. It's really quite simple, criminals prefer unarmed victims. When James Holmes decided to shoot up the theater he didn't go to closest theater to his house that was playing that movie, he went to the one that had signs outside stating that it was a "gun free zone". You see, criminals don't obey laws. That's what makes them criminals. If you ban guns, the criminals will still have them. Cocaine and meth are illegal but that hasn't solved the drug problem has it? All it takes is a little common sense and rational thought. Check the murder rates vs. gun laws in Europe. The countries with the highest murder rates have the strictest gun laws. The pattern isn't difficult to see if you open your eyes. You might be an intelligent man Mr Morgan, but there was no indication of that in your interview with Mr. Pratt.

    December 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jim

    I would be so embara$sed if I were Morgan looking back on this interview. Tactless and tasteless. Somehow I and millions of gun owners like me (whom you call "idiots"), have managed to not murder someone. Imagine that.

    December 21, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Stan

    Bravo Mr..Piers Morgan for calling idiots stupid.It is hard to comprehend the mental state of those who believe our first grade teachers should be wearing semiautomatic weapons into classes of 6 year old children. Nuts,unmitigated nuts !!!Is this how low our society has sunk?

    December 21, 2012 at 1:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pete

      Firstly, calling idiots "stupid" is redundant and proves only the idiocy of the speaker. Secondly, who is going to defend the children? Who else could have stopped the Sandy Hook massacre than an armed civilian? Banning guns is impractical and a waste of effort in preventing mass killings. The truly evil and those truly bent on killing will find a way.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • AlexTR

        Also, let's not forget that in Mr. Morgan's home country, the UK, when guns were banned gun violence went UP by 89%. Genius idea, Morgan. Defend that while calling other people idiot.

        December 24, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  18. Jason

    Piers Morgan, what a professional journalist (sarcasm). countries can ban firearms all they want, they still have gun-related crimes. why? b/c criminals don't abide by the law, they'll get their hands on some firearms one way or another (black market). then your law abiding citizens are just sitting ducks, victims.

    December 21, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Cesar

    I stopped watching CNN a few months after the start of Piers Morgan show. I miss Larry King, he is truly a journalist, not a judgemental tabloid reporter. Too bad that CNN became another Fox News. They didn't have to, but they chose to become sensational and offensive because they thought that could bring ratings. Well, I just canceled cable alltogether and I'm happy with Netflix. i don't need the news, if they are all distorded and are just scripted reality TV shows.

    December 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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