Actor Charlton Heston, who died over the weekend, was not just the public face of the gun-rights movement “but a good deal of the fire in its belly during a transformational time in the decades-old debate,” says the Associated Press. Democrats ran away from a cause they once embraced, scared off after they lost the 2000 presidential election in part because of their gun-control advocacy. In 2003, when Heston stepped down after five years as president of the National Rifle Association, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said, “Were it not for your active involvement, it’s safe to say my brother may not have been president.”
In attacking presidential candidate Al Gore, who favored mandatory photo ID licenses for future handgun buyers, as he had once lifted Moses’ staff in “The Ten Commandments,” Heston held a musket above his head and dared Gore from afar to pry it “from my cold dead hands.” After the 2000 election, Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway recalled flying over Gore’s home state of Tennessee and overhearing two men talking in business class. “The problem with Al Gore is he’ll take our guns away,” one said. Gore lost Tennessee and the election.