The Potowmack Institute

Charlton Heston Speaks

The great concern of the gun lobby and the libertarians is government coercion. The way we minimize the coercive powers of government is to use free institutions. We conduct a public debate, get out all the relevant facts, arrive at a consensus and let policy follow. In his National Press Club address below, Heston rails against the news media but no one serves the NRA's purposes better than the news media.

The culture wars which is the topic of Heston's February 16th Harvard speech is part of the rightwing movement's larger strategy to separate wage-earning Americans from their true interests— interests as workers, citizens, and gun owners— and to divert their attention toward scapegoats— usually moral scapegoats: homosexuals, immigrants, feminists, atheists, secular humanists, gunhaters, whatever. The diversion is away from their natural antagonists in the political economy— Wall Street and corporations— so we can have policies that redistribute wealth upward and the tax burden downward.

The Potowmack Institute's recommendation for a national firearms policy is accountability of ownership. It derives from the Militia Act of 1792, enacted by the same people who ratified the Second Amendment. The Militia Act was about military organization. There was not personal right involved of the sort invented in Emerson and volume of pseudoscholarship the district court cites. The Militia Act of 1792 required the states to "enroll"— that is, registered— gun owners for militia duty just as they had been registered for the King's militia. (See .../196gnd.html and Kates in .../196lrev.html). Registration of ownership and the reporting of private sales would shut down the illegal traffic in firearms and empower local jurisdictions to enforce their local rules and regulations. Registration also creates the mechanism to establish legal categories of gun ownership that could effectively disarm the lawless and the disloyal starting with the NRA's "armed citizen guerrillas." That is how we provide for our self-defense under law and government.

The real issue that is not address by Heston is, why would the NRA be opposed to that policy now? The reason is the very contemporary rightwing fantasy that the purpose of private gun ownership is to maintain a balance of power between a privately armed populace and any and all government.

Meanwhile, the gun controllers and the public health lobby are advocating trigger locks and suing the gun manufacturers (.../ronstew.html) because they cannot ask, What does the NRA really want? The whole business of gun ownership and gun violence turns on false defintions.

National Press Club, September 11, 1997

The Second Amendment:America's First Freedom
By Charlton Heston

with comments by G. Eyclesheimer Ernst

Charlton Heston Addresses
the Free Congress Foundation's
20th Anniversary Gala, December 20, 1997

Culture War Speech No. 1

without comments

Charlton Heston Addresses
Harvard Law School, February 16, 1999

Culture War Speech No. 2

with comments by G. Eyclesheimer Ernst

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