A customizable database of quotes from leaders of the National Rifle Association
Actor Charlton Heston rose to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s for his roles in films like “The Ten Commandments,” “El Cid” and “Planet of the Apes.” He was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in “Ben-Hur” in 1959. Heston was an early supporter of the civil rights movement in America who picketed restaurants and movie theaters that practiced segregation. On August 28, 1963 he would join Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the March on Washington. During a roundtable discussion conducted that day in a television studio, Heston discussed his involvement in the movement saying, “Like many Americans this summer, I could no longer pay only lip service to a cause that is so urgently right, and in a time that is so urgently now.” After the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy by a gunman, Heston championed the Gun Control Act of 1968, a landmark federal law regulating firearms. Appearing on ABC’s “The Joey Bishop Show,” Heston said about the Act: “This bill is no mystery. Let’s be clear about it. Its purpose is simple and direct. It is not to deprive the sportsman of his hunting gun, the marksman of his target rifle, nor would it deny to any responsible citizen his constitutional right to own a firearm. It is to prevent the murder of Americans.” Heston opposed the Vietnam War and considered running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat, but by the 1980s his political affiliation changed with his endorsement of Republican Ronald Reagan for president. By 1997, he had joined the “Culture War,” delivering a fiery speech at the Free Congress Foundation that argued that American society persecuted whites. One year later, he was elected president of the National Rifle Association. During his tenure as NRA president, Heston was best known for a speech where he raised a musket over his head and said that then-presidential candidate Al Gore could have his gun when he pried it “from [Heston’s] cold, dead hands.” He was besieged by medical problems later in life, including alcoholism and Alzheimer’s disease, and passed away in 2008.