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Heston waves rifle at gun control lobby

Orlando, April 27 (Reuters): Charlton Heston, long a thorn in the side of the gun control lobby, yesterday stood before a convention of gun owners, raised an 1866 Winchester rifle above his head and defiantly proclaimed in a weak voice, “From my cold dead hands”.

Not quite ready to leave the limelight after stepping down on Friday as the National Rifle Association president and the public image of its battle for gun rights, Heston, 78, made an unexpected reappearance before an adulatory crowd of gun owners at the NRA’s annual convention.

Heston (in picture above) appeared much stronger than he had at the official farewell the night before, though he was prompted by Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the four-million-member NRA, to thank the audience. LaPierre called Heston “a fearless patriot and defender of personal freedom”.

On Friday night, Heston, whose cadenced, almost martial baritone became the voice of Moses and Ben Hur during a legendary Hollywood career, had been silent at an emotional farewell tribute.

Heston made public last year that he had symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, a degenerative brain ailment, and had to be helped across the stage by LaPierre on Friday night.

His appearance yesterday allowed him to once again, as in years past, raise a musket above his head with his “from my cold dead hands” challenge to those who wish to limit ownership of guns in the US.

Heston won an Academy Award in 1959 for Ben Hur.

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