In the 1997 interview on the BBC’s HARDtalk, host Tim Sebastion said, “Charlton Heston, a lot of people would say they fail to understand your views on guns, for instance, your promotion of the National Rifle Association.”
Heston said, “Well, Americans certainly shouldn’t fail to see that because it’s the Second amendment of our Bill of Rights, which is an utterly unique document – no other government in the world has it. And they had it because those wise, old dead white guys that invented the United States had witnessed –”
“One of the first acts of General [William] Howe, when they saw the Revolution, the Americans really were going to revolt, was to go through as many houses as they could and take away the firearms,” said Heston.
The BBC’s Sebastian then questioned unrestricted ownership of guns and quoted former Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell (d.1998) as saying, “With respect to handguns, it’s not easy to understand why the 2nd Amendment or the notion of liberty should be viewed as creating a right to own and carry a weapon that contributes so directly to the shocking numbers of murders in the U.S.”
Heston said, “With due respect to Chief Justice Powell, or Justice Powell, I don’t think he has the iconic stature of, say, Thomas Jefferson, who said -- when they were drawing up the papers for the Second Amendment, and the Bill of Rights -- he said, ‘It is the aim that every man bear a gun.’ Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Madison, all, it’s on the record.”
“But it’s disputed, isn’t it?” said the BBC host.
Heston said, “By less intelligent men. You realize those were giants? I mean, do you think Justice Powell would argue with Thomas Jefferson? Or James Madison? Or Patrick Henry?”
When the BBC’s Sebastian whether he thought there were too many gun accidents in America whereby people were dying, Heston said, “There are too many people being murdered by taking guns away from law-abiding citizens. The thing to do is to see that the criminals are punished. ….”
Heston was National Rifle Association president from 1998 to 2003, at which time he resigned for health reasons. He died on Apr. 5, 2008. He had starred in such popular films as The Ten Commandments, Touch of Evil, Planet of the Apes, and Ben-Hur, for which he won the best actor Academy Award.