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Monday, April 7, 2008

Pro-rights Icon and Former NRA President Charlton Heston Dies

I awoke yesterday to news that former NRA President Charlton Heston had died at his home in California on Saturday. USA Today has a good article on his life here. Fox News has a good article here.

Heston was a God-send to the gun rights movement and the NRA at a time when the movement was on the defensive with a profile shootings at several schools and a vehemently anti-rights president in the White House and high profile shootings at several schools.

He can rightly take credit for doubling the membership of the NRA from 2 to 4 million. I still remember watching him raise that musket in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2000 at the end of his remarks to the NRA Annual Members Meeting that have been immortalized since. Speaking to then presidential candidate Al Gore he said "to you I have five simple words, From my cold dead hands." The crowd jumped to its feet and roared in approval. I watched him repeat that phrase three more times at annual meetings until he did it for the last time in Orlando in 2003, as he stepped down after serving an unprecedented six years as NRA President.

I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Heston in 1993 when he came to Virginia to campaign for George Allen during the '93 race for Governor. I still have the photo hanging on my wall that was taken at the NRA Breakfast in Richmond the Friday before the election. I would again have the opportunity to meet with him in 2001 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA during a Fourth of July event at the University.

Mr. Heston dedicated his life to the ideals in which he believed, whether it was civil rights or later gun rights. May we all be able to say the same when we leave this world.

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