NRA's Heston: 'From My Cold, Dead Hands'

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Charlotte, NC ( - With sharp language, a growing political war chest and an antique musket held overhead, Charlton Heston accepted election to his third term as president of the National Rifle Association by warning that "our gun rights are in peril," and promising to make his mission the defeat of Vice President Al Gore in the race for president.

During remarks at the group's national convention here Saturday, Heston called his election to an unprecedented third term as head of the pro-Second Amendment group "one more encore," and invoked presidential history in accepting the post and vowing to win the battle against further gun control.

"George Washington hung around until the Revolutionary War was won. Franklin Roosevelt hung around until World War II was won. Reagan hung around until the Cold War was won," said Heston.

The message from Heston was reminiscent of a traditional NRA battle cry to those who would further erode the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Lifting a musket over his head, Heston concluded by saying "from my cold, dead hands," winning loud applause from the conventioneers. Heston's overwhelming re-election is expected to be ratified when the NRA's board of directors meets Monday.

Heston also applauded the work of NRA members, saying he was glad that during his tenure to date, the membership base had been re-built along with the group's political action treasury. NRA officials said they anticipate spending $10 million to $15 million during the current election cycle, an increase of roughly 25 percent over past years, but far less than what the AFL-CIO and other liberal groups have pledged to inject into the campaign. Heston predicted the NRA's increased political muscle would make it a formidable power in the 2000 campaign.

"I wanted to bring the NRA back to the table of the mainstream political debate," said Heston. "I'd say we're not just at the table, we're eating their lunch."

In criticizing the gun control policies of Gore, Heston also drew a bead on the Mothers Day gun control march on Washington, DC on May 14, which Heston and other NRA members dismissed as a political event staged for the benefit of Gore.

"One of the marchers said 'the hands that rock the cradle rule this nation,'" noted Heston. "I thought, 'no Madame, the hands that rock the cradle rule our families and governments and corporations. The hands that wrote the Constitution rule this nation.'"

Heston also rallied the crowd, estimated by convention planners at 40,000, to continue working for the election of pro-Second Amendment candidates and the defeat of anti-gun advocates in the November elections.

"Only you know what you can do between now and that decisive November day to turn the tide of these elections in favor of freedom," said Heston. "I ask you to fight it and fulfill it. We set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away."

The convention drew supporters from as far away as England and South Africa, with almost no visible opposition from anti-gun demonstrations, leaving local police prepared for protests that did not materialize. Said one observer, "Charlotte was the NRA's town this weekend."