NRA's Heston Addresses Brandeis Students Amid Protests

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Waltham, MA ( - As hundreds of students chanted "Gun Control Now," actor and National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston talked about gun control, political correctness and other cultural issues during a Tuesday night address at Brandeis University.

"I believe that today, right now, here, we are engaged in a great civil war and this campus is one of the battlegrounds, " said the 76-year-old Academy Award-winning actor.

As he made his way toward the student center, Heston was greeted by an estimated two dozen students, lying on the ground and wearing tee-shirts spattered with a red, blood-like liquid and bearing holes intended to resemble fake bullet holes. "We're trying to show that when guns work, they kill," said Alex Roth, one of the students. "There is a difference between domestic and military violence."

Despite the anti-guns demonstrators, Heston received a standing ovation from many of the estimated 1,500 students who packed the building.

In his address, Heston insisted the nation already has enough guns laws and accused the Clinton Administration of failing to prosecute those who have violated the existing laws. "It puzzles me and amazes me that the president is so stubborn when it comes to the issue of guns...There are already 22,000 gun laws on the books, but the president won't prosecute those laws. Instead, he wants new laws."

Heston also had some thoughts about those who protest guns and what he regards as Second Amendment rights. "One of the wonderful things about this country is that you have the right to speak out and to disagree with the government. People who protest the Second Amendment don't understand the Second Amendment."

Addressing political correctness, Heston told the audience, "Political correctness is tyranny with manners, and cultural cancer is eating away at out society."

Heston was invited to appear at Brandies, a Greater Boston school well known for its liberal staff and student body, by conservative student groups whose leaders have frequently criticized the administration.

"The university doesn't like right wing people to come to Brandeis and speak," according to Eric Kotkin, a 21-year-old senior and a member of the Second Amendment Club. "I think Mr. Heston presents a view that doesn't get expressed very often here."

University spokesman Dennis Nealon characterized the student's assertion as "absolutely ridiculous."

Heston waived his usual $35,000 speaking fee in accepting the Brandeis invitation and, while the protesters were peaceful, the university took no chances. More than a dozen university and town police officers provided security and a bomb-sniffing dog and handler walked the student center. People entering the building also were required to pass through a metal detector.

Prior to his address, and in an interview with a local radio station, Heston again faulted the Clinton Administration for its failure to enforce current gun laws.

"For reasons that are puzzling to me, if not absolutely opaque, it seems to me this administration has been enormously lax in prosecuting federal crimes, violent crimes. I think that's a very distressing development that has been going that way for several years."

Commenting on the recent agreement between Smith & Wesson and the Clinton Administration, Heston characterized the company as "a fine old American name, but they are owned by the Brits...I don't relish the idea of the Brits telling us how to deal with one part of our Bill of Rights. I thought we settled that in 1776."