Date: 16th November 2000
Hollywood actor-turned-guns campaigner Charlton Heston has launched an astonishingly ill-informed attack on the United Kingdom's gun laws, describing the inability of citizens to bear arms as "cultural cowardice".
The Oscar-winning actor, famous for his heroic roles in film classic BEN HUR and PLANET OF THE APES, said that crime had increased in Britain since the 1997 ban on hand guns.
In a speech to students at Oxford University, he said that he would be "safer stepping off the plane in Los Angeles...than walking the streets of London." Heston, long-standing president of the U.S. National Rifle Association, spoke only briefly to the Oxford Union of his cinematic career, concentrating instead on the right of citizens to bear arms. "I have spent my life in service to these two sacred sets of work - the gift of human passion in William Shakespeare and the gift of human freedom enshrined in the American Bill of Human Rights," the BBC reported him saying. "Tony Blair can have his bodyguards and the police are all allowed to defend themselves, then so should the people."
Calling British laws "cultural cowardice and a subtle form of surrender to the criminals," Heston said possession of a gun did not make people criminals or more likely to commit crime. Turning to the U.S. elections, Heston, a staunch Republican, condemned Democratic candidate Al Gore for taking legal action over the Florida result but said that whoever was installed in the Oval Office would have "his tenure in question. "He will not have an easy time." (PDD/WNWCYA)