GOP Guns for Spike Lee

NRA advocates angry over filmmaker's suggestion that Charlton Heston be "shot"

By Bridget Byrne May 27, 1999 1:50 AMTags
Verbal fire over gun control wracked up a notch as Republicans in Washington reacted angrily to Spike Lee's suggestion that National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston should be shot.

Meanwhile, the Planet of the Apes star seemed to take the Do the Right Thing director's comment with a grain of salt.

"Shoot him--with a .44-caliber Bulldog," Lee said (with a laugh) last week at France's Cannes Film Festival, when asked what should be done with gun-advocate Heston. Lee's remark about Heston was later printed in the New York Post, where he was also quoted as saying he'd like to "dismantle the NRA."

On Wednesday, House Republican Leader Dick Armey issued a statement condemning Lee as having "nothing to offer the debate on school violence except more violence and more hate." Armey also urged Lee to "apologize immediately" to Heston and the NRA.

Calling on so-called "liberal elites" to also condemn Lee's "embrace of violence," Armey added, "Spike Lee must know that many youth look to him as a role model. I hope no child in America takes his comments as an encouragement."

Lee has also taken media heat for the remark, with WABC talk radio host Steve Malzberg making his comments the focus of his Saturday night program.

"The remark is bad enough," said Malzberg, who faxed the Post column to Heston, "but given the recent school shootings and the climate they have created in this country, you might think Lee would be taken to task by someone, somewhere. Where's the outrage over this?"

The conservative Washington Times, meanwhile, ran Malzberg's remarks Wednesday under the headline, "Where's the Outrage"--the same day Republicans in the House rejected Democratic attempts for a swift vote this week on gun-control proposals passed by the Senate.

Interestingly, veteran actor Heston's barrels aren't smoking over Lee's remarks. He told E! Online, "Well, I suppose this is the first time I've faced death since I got back from World War II," referring to Winston Chuchill's quote that "there is no more exhilarating experience than being shot at unsuccessfully."

Asked if this implied that Lee would make a poor marksman, Heston said, "I have no idea, but I know he's got a mouth."

Heston added that he's never met Lee, nor has he seen any of his films. He doesn't know if Lee has seen any of his, but noted, "I've made more than him, so the odds are with me."

Lee's comments were made last week while he was at Cannes plugging his latest movie, Summer of Sam, a semi-fictionalized account of New York City in 1977 when David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" serial killer, was on the loose.

A spokesman for Buena Vista, distributor for Summer of Sam, said he would check if Lee had any further comment, but doubted it.