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Heston needs to learn to compromise

National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston, AKA Moses in the epic flick "The Ten Commandments," wants West Virginians to vote Republican George W. Bush into the presidency "to preserve our great freedom."

Mr. Heston seems to think that a vote for Al Gore and the Democrats is a vote for tyranny -- probably because they will push for more gun control measures.

We're not here today to debate the pros and cons of gun control, nor are we here to take a stance on whether to vote for Bush or Gore.

Rather, we take exception to the way Mr. Heston made his presentation.

It can be inferred from his remarks that the Constitution is about an inch away from the incinerator while jack-booted thugs are about to start goose-stepping down Corridor H and Interstate 79.

"When freedom is in danger, it is your duty to turn a deaf ear to all else," Heston told National Rifle Association members gathered to hear his speech in Raleigh County.

"You must forget what some shop steward or news anchor said ... forget all the marginal issues and vote freedom."

We're not sure what a marginal issue is to Mr. Heston.

Perhaps it's abortion.

Or maybe it's the future of Social Security, or Medicare. Perhaps it's taxes.

Whatever the case, we're sure that Mr. Heston's view of the world isn't in lock step with everyone else's, including many of his followers in the National Rifle Association.

What makes the NRA such an effective lobbying group is that it puts gun rights above just about any other rights. It's effective because there's no waffling going on, whereas many other causes are often slowed by attacks of conscience, or at the very least, by the ability to sometimes see -- and understand, maybe even agree on occasion -- with the other side.

But just because the NRA is effective doesn't make it right.

The NRA has some good ideas, and so does Heston. Some gun control proponents simply want to go too far. Given the chance, they would trample on important individual freedoms.

But some gun control advocates certainly have good points, too. It's hard not to at least be willing to discuss the matter after each round of mass killings.

The NRA will still be around eight years from now, even if Al Gore is elected and gets a Democratic Congress. Guns will still be around, too.

C'mon, Mr. Heston. Do you really think that great individual freedoms will be lost if Mr. Gore and the Democrats are elected? Or that the gains really would be that great under Bush and Republican leadership?

Heston and his group should be more willing to compromise.

And they definitely ought to dispense with the hyperbole. In our view, that's just shooting blanks.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which is comprised of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Matt Harvey, Nora Edinger and J. Cecil Jarvis.

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