Was Charlton Heston A Misunderstood Prophet For Gun Control?

Are you ready for an adult conversation about common-sense solutions to improve gun safety?

In 2000, at the NRA convention, and again in 2003, when Charlton Heston held that iconic musket over his head and said, "From my cold dead hands," he was more right than most folks realize.

Heston held the weapon of choice for real hunters. It was a rifle that could hit a buck at 500 yards but not a room full of children. He held a weapon that looked at home over a fireplace and could be used to defend a home without putting it at increased risk. Muskets are notoriously poor weapons when it comes to drive by shootings, mass murders, suicide and domestic violence.

If the picture of a musket in your mind is a little hard to grasp, substitute the picture of any hunting rifle or shotgun with a small ammo capacity. Think of something your father or grandfather used when they taught you gun safety.

More importantly, Heston did not have an assault rifle in his hand with a large capacity magazine full of cop-killer bullets.  

Was Charlton Heston trying to provoke a conversation? That overdue conversation by moms and dads about common sense solutions to improve gun safety is late in occurring but hopefully not too late for your children or grandchildren.

If you support the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, and abhor the death and carnage inflicted upon so many in its name, your participation in that common-sense conversation is necessary. If you are a hunter, your participation in that conversation is essential.

For too long, hunters have been pushed out of the conversation by extremists from the militias, conspiracy groups, gun manufacturers and political opportunists. Yes, Grover Norquist sits on the NRA board, which was elected by 7 percent of its membership. Now is the time for hunters to retake control of their sport, their way of life, and their reputation.

Many remember Charlton Heston as an over-the-hill actor with a bad hairpiece, a drinking problem and diminished mental capacity who could only get attention by saying the most outlandish things to extremist groups in his later years.

In Wikipedia, it says that, in 2000, Heston publicly disclosed that he had been treated for alcoholism at a Utah clinic in May–June of that year On August 9, 2002, Heston publicly announced (via a taped message) he was diagnosed with symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease.

Others remember the Academy Award-winning actor who walked with Dr. King in 1963 at the civil rights march on Washington. If we close our eyes, we can see the both real hero and the movie hero standing with the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, defending the children and not defending the weapons that made the massacre possible.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Artie December 19, 2012 at 10:47 PM
The problems are far beyond gun control or banning guns. We must take a deep look at our cultural issues. Form violent video games, movies to children who are not taught to respect others properties or themselves. Failure to discipline and to much cuddling. And we certainly need to look at getting more help to those who have mental issues. But also look at all the children who are put on drugs because they are simply over active. Conn. has 4th strictest gun regulations in the country and Chicago's has a complete ban on gun ownership and look at the murder rate there .
Mike Holzknecht December 19, 2012 at 11:32 PM
This is where the conversation begins. What does our next door neighbor, Canada, do differently? They see the same movies, and videos. They teach their children much like we teach ours. They are a nation of hunters but they rarely kill each other. What about other countries? Do states with stricter gun laws have fewer deaths? Google is full of facts that are waiting for you.
Pam J December 20, 2012 at 04:28 AM
I honestly believe that banning assault weapons is a great beginning. The only reasons most of us "need" guns is for hunting and protection. From what I have read, there's not a lot of people who have to shoot someone to protect themselves. Unfortunately, most people who get shot don't have guns. When my father passed away in March, we found three rifles in the back of a closet. My mother did not know he had them. They are so heavy I have a hard time holding them up. If you have kids, I suggest you get those! If you eat at Cracker Barrel, you will notice they have a deer head and a rifle over their fireplace. Guns are just part of our culture. Used wisely, they are fine. Also, if someone buys a gun, all people living in the house where that gun is going to be should have to have a background check. It won't help if the person buying the gun is fine, but everybody else in the house isn't.
Pete December 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM
First on guns - Someone explain to me the need for an automatic assault rifle or high capacity magazine for a rifle for a normal law abiding citizen? Or a bullet proof vest? Seriously.. Some rational explanation for it's use, other than "it's my right" or "2nd amendment" or some other real reason.. Rifles for hunting, fine. Pistols for home protection, fine. But seriously, a semi-auto AR-15can be converted to fully auto by anyone (just google it) - it has no place in the civilian world.. That being said, this is not a gun issue. Guns are as dangerous as cars, or knives or anything else misused. This is control issue - mental illness is a huge problem - people will point to violence in video games, on tv, in movies, and while those are contributing factors, it starts with the misfire in the brain because a normal, rational person doesn't go off based on what they see. Now, sitting there fixated on something for hours and hours and days and weeks is a different deal, but then again, try watching the news every day and not feel depressed - one political party blaming the other, every news story sensationalized and about negativity or violence - the media is as much to blame as any video game.
Norman December 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Do you really believe that gun control will solve mass murders like this? Think again. There are millions upon millions of guns in this country already in the hands of citizens. That includes citizens that shouldn't have them. We have lots of laws in place already, including background checks. If you read a bit more into this guy that committed the murders you'll see that what he needed was mental health availability. If he didn't get a gun he probably would have found another method...maybe a car on the sidewalk when school let out, who knows. But honestly, no matter how many laws are put in place, gun "control" isn't going to do a thing.
Byron Rangitsch December 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Why is the gun control debate so toxic? Everyone believes in gun control - somewhere between sharpened sticks and the Tsar Bomb, we all agree there are limits. Why does the gun control debate distill to guns v no guns. Handguns, shotguns, and manual action rifles were given 2nd am. protection this century by the Supreme Court with DC v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. But even Scalia admits that no right is limitless and allows for regulations. So, reasonable regulations are on the table, and the distance between the lower legal limit and the current limit doesn't even seem that far apart.
Vorant1 December 21, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Part 1: Back in the 1970s here in Cobb County Georgia we had an elective class in high school called “Outdoor Education”. We used material that was produced by the Ga. Dept. of Natural Resources and covered areas such as conservation, outdoor skills, wildlife identification, boating/water safety, hunting, hunter safety and fishing. We had axes, knives, matches, saws and other outdoor equipment on campus. What will shock the bed-wetting demographic is we had firearm instruction and demonstrations on campus as well. I still remember our teacher bringing his own firearms for one class, in which he instructed us on the workings, handling and dangers. He showed us the destructive power of his 30/30 lever action rifle and that it wasn’t hard to imagine what it would do to a human if handled or used in the wrong way (no graphic 3d animation necessary). That demonstration still stays with me to this day because up to that point I had very little contact with firearms. In a later class we even shot skeet on the practice field behind our school. Continued in Part 2
Vorant1 December 21, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Part 2: The reason I bring this up is to ask; what has changed? Guns haven’t changed much, a civilian AR15 then is pretty much the same as one now and a handgun is still a handgun. What has changed is our culture. We have graphic video games, graphic movies, graphic TV shows and graphic news stories, all of which desensitizes young minds to violence. Couple that with over medication, broken families, one parent households, rampant moral decline, the killing of the unborn, materialism gone insane and a political system that's a joke. It's been 37 years since I took that class in high school and sadly this nation no longer resembles what I grew up loving and respecting. If the liberals/progressives want to identify what's wrong with this country all they have to do is look in the mirror, the decline is squarely on their shoulders. Its policies they’ve implemented over the last 50 years that has set the stage for this tragedy. Liberals/ progressives blaming inanimate objects for what happened in Connecticut is an act of cowardice, deal with the culture you created, man up and admit you’re wrong, I’d wager the American people would be willing to forgive you. BTW, I may not have said it, but I hold traitorous progressive republicans at fault as well…..
BStein December 21, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Vorant1, I think you should probably climb back into that hole you came from. The reason there is gun violence in this country is because it's easier to get an assualt weapon then it is to adopt a pet. Our neighbors to the north (Canada) have a very similar culture to us, teach our children the same, see the same movies, video games, have similar values, yet they haven't had a mass shooting since 1989. What's even funnier about your statement is that countries that are far more liberal than us, France, UK, Australia, basically all of the EU don't have gun violence like we do here. Don't you wonder why that is? Conservatism has led us down the drain and has killed our children, I think it's time they take responsibility for that.
Pete December 21, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Great post Vorant1! Although the railing vs your ideal of liberals/progressives is a little far off.. You are missing the fact outside of the middle east, most of the world is fairly progressive... Only thing I'd add is the fact we now have a generation of folks that accept no responsibility for their actions. We've become a litigious society, failing to accept blame for anything, always deferring or denying, or finding a way to pass it along onto something or someone else. We have 30+ years of kids growing up with that mindset, and raising children with even more overindulgence.
Vorant1 December 22, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Truth hurts doesn't it...BTW we aren't Europe, when will you idiots deal with that fact their is NO comparison.
Vorant1 December 22, 2012 at 02:28 AM
ern leedham December 24, 2012 at 09:22 PM
In Australia we have criminals stockpiling guns to protect their drug crops, almost every day we have shootings but have tough gun laws. I felt safer before these gun laws were introduced. With the population difference the shooting of one person is equal to twenty in you country. New York and Chicago would equal our population.
Paul The East Cobb Liberal December 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM
BStein, humble suggestion that you ignore anything said by posters who resort to silly phrases like "bedwetter demographic". Anytime I read something that contains phrases like that or similar ones such as "mainstream media" I simply ignore the rest of the comment. Dopey little catchphrases like those are the refuge of folks who struggle to independently put together intelligent sentences. Your Canada point was a good one, but clearly lost on those to whom open-mindedness is anathema.
Ban the NRA December 25, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Really? I live in the U.S. and would gladly trade our drug problem with that of Australia. Your country serves as an example of a country that strengthened gun laws in 1996 (banning automatic and semi-automatic weapons). Gun homicide rates dropped 59% over the next decade. We need to follow your lead (assuming you really are from Australia).
jim armstrong December 26, 2012 at 11:31 PM
for all your long winded rhetoric, the bottom line is your opinion, not any sort of common sense solution. One sided, and with your take on the symbolic gesture of Heston. When he lifted that musket, he was indicating that ALL firearms could be borne by honest God fearing citizens, not just the priviledged few who make up the government entities in this country. When the governing agencies are the only ones allowed to bear arms, any arms, we will become the oppressed ones under a dictatorship, and ruled instead of govened.
mrneighborman December 29, 2012 at 09:54 AM
Lets consider all the factors, coming out of, some believing we're heading into a recession, the fact that in the us, we work more days, and longer hours annually, we have social workers telling is that it's i.appropriate to spank children, despite thwy jave none of their own...etc. It adds up to a lot of stress and as someone mentioned earlier a lack of accountability. When parents allow that video game and television to babysit their child, as they are winding down, there's a problem. Whrn you cannot get mental health care for a child that has threatened a parent with a deadly weapon, there is a problem. As far as why we need "assault weapons"... Ipose the question why do you need a cell phone? Far more lives have been lost in this country to texting and driving, where you are 8 times more impaired than dui. Hat's not a big deal though, because everyone does it. Eventually all the "everyone does its" add up. This whole gun debate, in my oponion is yet another example of the bigger problem of passing the buck, not accepting accountability and wanting the gov't to fix our problems. Wether you want a free check, or a new law it's all the same. My mother was a first grade teacher of almost 40 years before retirement. She spent countless hours into the wee hours of the morning
mrneighborman December 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Grading books, writing up lesson plans, preparing report cards, buying art supplies and the like. I say that to.say it wasn't her job but her life. She loves to this day each and every child she has taught, and many she didn't. The poor, private school pay was a non issue. What was a problem, growing in fact, was the increasing number of 6 year olds dropped off at "before care" at 5 am, and not picked up until "after care" was over at 7:30. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the kid probably woke up best case scenario 4am at the latest, probably didn't get home before 8pm, at which time the child probably ate dinner, watched tv then went to bed by 10. That doesn't leave a lot of family time. The problem gets worse as they are older.
mrneighborman December 29, 2012 at 10:18 AM
On to the next thing...this year the wednesday before thanksgiving, I went to the petsmart to pick up some special "Thanksgiving dinner" for my dog. As I walked to the store I noticed many tents with families camped out in front of best buy...really?! Lets see here we say we're Christian, or many seem to, yet instead of being thankful for our blessings on day, and spending much needed "off time" with our families we instead must covet things we do not have. Saving a few bucks on some things that will be antiquated in a month or two is somehow vastly more important than reflecting over the last years blessings with the.family. we can't even do it for one day. I spent 2.5 years on crutches thinking about losing my leg. All of a sudden things hat were important to me changed. People I looked down on saved my bacon and forced me to take a long hard look in the mirror. I still have a long way to go, and I don't give enough, but let's not forget what he holiday is about. It is about being thankful for things we have, and for a person that would shed every drop.of his blood for everything that we would do wrong, when all he asks is that we try to pay it forward. I told my family this year I didn't want anything but them for christmas, under the tree were things I already had a paycheck stub, some nice tools I've had for a.few.months...etc things I am fortunate to have, shingles left over from my new roof, things I had already received.
mrneighborman December 29, 2012 at 10:25 AM
I have gone on far too much already, and I apologize for the long post, but if we want to fix this we have to quit pointing the finger at and arguing with one another. There is enough conflict in this world as it is. We don't need to add to it. The solution starts with each and every one of us. It isn't convenient but hey neither is cleaning the gutters...it is no less necessary. I am not saying this to offend, or point a finger, I am not perfect, and have my stake in this problem as well, but I am willing to try to change the important things that matter. I just want a handshake agreement to mean something again. It would be nice to see a fair eeks pay for a.fair weeks work, and recognition for those that excel that is at least as vocal as the scorn for those who do not. Well, again sorry for being long winded, but thanks for listening.
Quiet Professional December 31, 2012 at 04:52 PM
"More importantly, Heston did not have an assault rifle in his hand with a large capacity magazine full of cop-killer bullets." "Assault rifle" and "cop killer bullets" are made up, propagandist terms that serve only to inflame the discussion by implying that those of us who own AR-15/M-4 pattern sporting rifles are all potential cop killers. (No, "AR" does NOT stand for "Assault Rifle".) In using them, he betrays his lack of sincerity with respect to his call for "an adult conversation" about guns.
Quiet Professional December 31, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Contrary to popular belief, crime -- rape, robbery, burglary, assault -- and suicide -- is WORSE across Europe and Australia. Yes, we have a homicide problem in the US, but it's mostly a function of the willingness of gang members to get into gun fights with one another--and the unwillingness of liberals to lock away violent, repeat offenders.
JB December 31, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I'm not sure I agree with your statement. The thing I have found most amazing about this entire debate is the faction that doesn not believe in any type of limits. They argue that cars and forks kill as many. Yes, but there are speed limits and seat belts to regulate cars and even nutritional packaging for foods. There has to be some type of restrictions on items that can kill so many, so quickly. Is that the entire argument? No... but its a start.
Denzel Hill December 31, 2012 at 07:56 PM
40 years ago when I was a young man and working for the AJC in Atlanta, the editorials were about getting rid of the "Saturday night specials". Cheap weapons, many weekend shootings. Now, not only have the weapons changed, but the culture has changed. Dramatically. There are no answers. It isn't going to get better. Only worse.
Pam J December 31, 2012 at 08:39 PM
You were believable until you put the "liberal" slant in there. This really has nothing to do with either party because I assume that neither party agrees with innocent people being killed.
Quiet Professional December 31, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Fair enough, Pam. Gun rights shouldn't be a right-left issue. Whoever you blame, we allow too many violent repeat offenders to run loose. Like the cretin who ambushed those firemen in NY.
Pam J December 31, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I believe that most of the mass shooters did not have criminal pasts. And a lot of the single shootings are done by and at people who know each other. There are some random shootings, being in the wrong place at the right time, but it would be interesting to know how many of those people have criminal pasts. The shooting in Marietta yesterday because some idiot was upset about his girlfriend being with another man. A shooting in Smyrna where some guy started shooting into a house and killed a man. But most people who make the news for shooting someone probably have never been in prison. But people do fall through the cracks and get out before they should.
John Himot January 01, 2013 at 03:19 AM
BStein do you even know what a assault weapon is? Unless it is fully auto it is not one. As for no gun violence in the UK France etc they seem to have more bombings then gun violence, and bombs have been outlawed for people even longer then the guns. Do a little reading about what the 2nd Amendment was about and who it was meant to protect us from. Germany without guns gave us Hitler Russia which became the U.S.S.R gave us Lennon that is what total gun control brings. I bet if you checked most killings are done by those who voted for libs and not conservatives. 500 dead in Chicago this year mostly gang related in a city with tough gun laws by those who keep voting in more and more libs. L.A ditto.
John Himot January 01, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Paul you lost me when I finished reading your name. Once the word lib is added we know you do not understand what truth is.


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