Don Lemon acted less as an anchor and more like a liberal activist during two segments on Wednesday's CNN Tonight — tag-teaming with Igor Volsky of Think Progress to repeatedly interrupt and shout down conservative radio host Ben Ferguson over his support for gun rights. This was an escalation from the previous evening, where he merely granted Volsky the heckler's veto. Lemon dismissed Ferguson's concern over President Obama's executive orders: "Does anybody in their right mind out there in America actually believe that the President is going to take away guns in America? It's never, ever, ever going to happen." [video below]
The CNN personality set the tone at the very start of the segment by targeting Rep. Paul Ryan for his criticism of the President's actions: "House Speaker [Paul] Ryan and other Republicans...made it clear that these actions are dead on arrival for them. But when politicians and the NRA...stoke fears that Obama is going to take away their guns; by saying that this is a distraction; by saying the President has no respect for the Second Amendment — I mean, come on."
Ferguson repeatedly tried to give an answer, but couldn't even complete a thought. Lemon and Volsky either reacted immaturely to something the conservative guest said, or laughed scornfully at him:
BEN FERGUSON, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, here's the thing: if the President really believed in this, why did he wait until he literally said, in his own words, I'm not running for re-election. So now, I'm going to do it. It tells me this is not so much about so much about anything else but a legacy — in trying to say, I did this. If he really thought this was going to fix the problem, he should have done it seven years ago — or six or five or four—
LEMON: So the problem is that — the problem is that he didn't do it—
FERGUSON: So no, there's two parts—
LEMON: Hang on, Ben; hang on. So the problem is that he didn't do it seven years ago; because it took him longer to do it; then therefore, you're opposed? That's the argument you're making.
FERGUSON: No. What I'm saying is, is that — the fact is, he obviously said, I'm going to do this now because I'm not up for re-election. So I'm going to go around Congress. I don't want to deal with you. I don't have to deal with you, because I'm never running again—
LEMON: So, he's not up for re-election. He's not up for election; so therefore, you oppose?
FERGUSON: No. I oppose it because he's going after this — our guns, which is a Second Amendment right, without going through Congress — which is what our Constitution says he's supposed to do—
LEMON: But how is he going after guns? He has said he's not going after guns. He's not saying he is going to take anybody's guns.
FERGUSON: Don, you can say that all you want to, but if you read the actual — what he put in this bill — or in his executive action; in his own words—
IGOR VOLSKY, DIRECTOR OF VIDEO AND CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AT THINK PROGRESS: Oh, God—
LEMON: Ben, you are a smart man—
FERGUSON: He is going to be taking away — I am a smart guy — I'm a very smart guy—
LEMON: And I like and I respect you a lot and you know that's not — you know the President — do you actually believe, honestly—
FERGUSON: Don, Don—
LEMON: Hold on; hang on; hold on. Do you honestly believe, and does anybody in their right mind out there in America, actually believe that the President is going to take away guns in America? It's never, ever, ever going to happen—
FERGUSON: Listen very clearly to what I'm saying: yes, because he put in the executive order, that there are certain people he is going to disqualify from being able to go buy a gun—
LEMON: Oh, my gosh—
FERGUSON: That is taking away your right. I don't know why you say, 'oh, gosh,' when he is taking away the right to purchase a weapon!
LEMON: If he's disqualifying, he's not taking anybody's guns away! That's not coming to take your guns. You never had a gun. If you shouldn't qualify for a gun, you can't take it away.
FERGUSON: If you lose your right, you're supposed to — you don't lose your right to — the Second Amendment says you have the right to own a gun, and the government cannot take that right away from you. What the President said was — is, no, no, no; if you fit in these categories, I'm going to take them away—
LEMON: The Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not unlimited. The Second Amendment is not unlimited. Not everybody in this country can own a gun, or has the capacity or the mental state to own a gun. It's not unlimited. Go ahead, Igor.
VOLSKY: Well, what Ben isn't telling you is that this whole argument that background checks infringe on the Second Amendment right wasn't born until 1981. It's an invention. In fact, the first gun law that passed in the 1930s under Roosevelt (Ferguson laughs), the head of the NRA was asked, do you think this infringes on Second Amendment rights? And the head said, we haven't even thought about that — because this is a modern invention that was created to shut down all debate about very sensible regulations, like making sure that people who shouldn't have guns shouldn't be able to buy them. And I don't know what Ben's talking about — taking away guns—
FERGUSON: I don't — do you have any idea—
VOLSKY: I read the orders, and expanding checks is not the same thing as taking away guns. And you know that! Come on. This is garbage you're showing up with—
FERGUSON: If you — if you're an individual — if you're an individual, and you go to a doctor; and that doctor says that he doesn't believe you should have a gun any more, and you lose your right to buy a gun, and you get your name turned over to the government — you're telling me that's not taking away your right to own a gun? Are you crazy?
VOLSKY: Hey, you know, Ben, look — I mean, you would argue that mentally-unstable people, who should not have firearms, shouldn't have firearms, right?
LEMON: It sounds like what you're arguing, Ben. I have to be honest—
VOLSKY: Until Obama does something about it; and then, you're against it. Then, it's big government—
FERGUSON: Then neither — neither of you are listening to what people that are defending the Second Amendment are saying....I'll make it very clear again. I'm going to make it very clear. I'm going to make it very—
LEMON: Ben, it sounds to me — hold on, Ben. It sounds to me that you're saying, even someone who does not have the mental capacity to own a gun — you are saying that that person should be allowed to have a gun. That's what it sounds like. Now, explain your point—
FERGUSON: That is not what I'm saying—
LEMON: Okay. What are you saying?
FERGUSON: And you guys need to listen to what I'm saying—
LEMON: I am listening to you!
VOLSKY: I can't understand you—
[CNN Graphic: "GOP Fires Back On Executive Action"]
FERGUSON: I'm going to make it very clear. I'm going to make it very, very clear. When you read what the executive order says, it says that someone in the Social Security Administration and/or a doctor can decide what person they believe might be a threat. There is no set of guidelines and/or rules that decides that—
LEMON: What's wrong with — who is going to decide it, then? Shouldn't a doctor decide that? (laughs)
VOLSKY: Ben's going to decide! Ben's going to decide! (laughs)
FERGUSON: Do you think — do you think that a Social Security Administration official should have the right to take away—
LEMON: Do you think a gun — someone who sells a gun to someone should be able to decide that?
FERGUSON: You have multiple doctors that give multiple opinions all the time. You — if you have cancer, you go get second and third and fourth opinions.
The point is this: you go to the wrong doctor, and that doctor turns in your name and takes away your right to own a gun, how do you get your name off of that list? No one has been able to answer that question at the White House; and no one knows how this list is going to be managed. And if you do get better: let's say you do take medication. Let say you are in depression. Let's say you lost your job; a child died. You had a tragedy in your life; and then, things start to get better again. (Lemon laughs) How do you get your right restored — which should never have been taken away, with your Second Amendment right, in the first place?
LEMON: Okay. All right. Stand by. Maybe, at that point, you probably — you maybe not want to own a gun, because you may change your mind about it. But anyway—
FERGUSON: So, you shouldn't have the right to defend yourself?
Lemon repeated his liberal points during the second segment, and Volsky attacked Ferguson and Second Amendment activists for "stoking fear," as Lemon himself put it in the first segment, and advancing conspiracy theories. The Think Progress editor, who repeatedly interrupted the conservative guest on Tuesday's CNN Tonight and earlier in the program on Wednesday, even had the audacity to whine at one point, "Ben, would you be quiet and let me talk for a minute here?" [video excerpts from the second Ferguson/Volsky segment below]