- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2002

Clint Eastwood, a k a Dirty Harry, ruled the streets of San Francisco with his Smith & Wesson .44-magnum, tracking down bad guys he dared to try to get away.
In outer space, a young Luke Skywalker learned to wield a light saber while trying to harness the Force under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Both excel on the big screen with their weapons of choice, which will be on display beginning tomorrow in "Real Guns of Reel Heroes" at the National Rifle Association's Firearms Museum in Fairfax.
Dirty Harry's .44-magnum "is culturally and historically significant. You could find a cop in every country in the world who is familiar with the line, 'Go ahead. Make my day,'" said Philip Schreier, the museum's curator of programs.
The exhibit "is going to cross popular culture boundaries," he says. "This will probably attract people who are fascinated with films but would never otherwise care about or talk about seeing guns in their lives."
Whether or not an actor or actress favors gun control, it would be difficult to find a performer who has not acted in a production involving firearms. Mr. Schreier is counting on this to attract fans of all political persuasions to the show.
"[I]f you say you've got the actual rifle Paul Newman used in 'The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean' this 1887 Winchester," he says, picking up the lever-action original, "we think they'll beat a path to your door."
Charlton Heston, a film legend and president of the National Rifle Association, will headline the opening of the exhibit tonight at an invitation-only gala.
The exhibit includes numerous movie stills, old film posters, holsters, knives, hats and other clothing, as well as firearms used in well-known war movies and police thrillers. Also to be displayed are several fake weapons seen in such science fiction hits as "Planet of the Apes," "Star Wars" and "Ghostbusters."
"Every kid knows, 'May the Force be with you,'" Mr. Schreier says as he shows off two "light sabers" used by characters Luke Skywalker and his Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the "Star Wars" epic.
Mr. Schreier, a former inspector for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, spent the past four months working with two consultants gun magazine editor Garry James and Dan Gagliasso, a screenwriter and director to organize the exhibit.
Like the gun Mr. Eastwood used in the "Dirty Harry" thrillers, many in the exhibit are on loan from the private collections of people in the film industry, including Mr. Heston and Tom Selleck. Dirty Harry's magnum, with an estimated worth of about $500,000, is owned by John Milius, a writer and director of many popular films, including "Red Dawn" and "Jeremiah Johnson."
The scores of shotguns, rifles, revolvers, machine guns and other weapons from 20 private collectors were used in films by Mr. Heston, John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn, Bruce Willis, Tommy Lee Jones and a litany of others.
Not all of the guns in the exhibit were used in films or television productions.
"The most important items I've loaned the museum are three pistols that belonged to Thomas Jefferson," Mr. Heston said Monday. "They are in perfect condition, and there's a letter that goes with them, handwritten by Jefferson to the son of a friend of his to whom he gave the guns.
"Most major museums have numerous firearms on display because guns have played and continued to play an important role in our history. They are not just weapons; many of the old ones are works of art. The NRA's National Firearms Museum is marvelous one of the best."
The NRA is using tonight's gala to announce the creation of the Charlton Heston Endowment, which will benefit the museum, to recognize the actor's contributions to the association, its cause and its 4 million members, said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
"Particularly in these difficult times, we think this show will really resonate with people," he says.
Hollywood's political advocacy for stricter gun laws "has not always been the case," says Stephen P. Halbrook, a Fairfax lawyer who, besides being the author of several books on the history of the Second Amendment, also holds a doctorate in social and political philosophy.
Prior to World War II, anti-gun sentiments in Hollywood were the exception rather than the rule, he said.
"A lot of the prominent Hollywood stars the men, at least were bird hunters, target shooters and gun collectors," he said. "But once Pearl Harbor hit, the gun-control movement in Hollywood, as small as it was, became irrelevant."
Over the years, "the shift against the Second Amendment in Hollywood has been profound," he says. "Anyone who doesn't follow the doctrine of political correctness it's reminiscent of the blacklisting that these same people condemned in the 1950s gets dragged across the road and run over when the new majority get a chance."
Mr. Milius said it's "political correctness run rampant," and it has affected his career.
"I can cite examples in the last 10 years of my career. It's very subtle, but no less insidious," he said. "The word goes around that it's not good to deal with him. They whisper that you are some sort of right-wing fanatic."
Mr. Heston's leadership of the NRA has been fodder for some late-night TV professional wisecrackers. But he laughs it off.
"Just look at what's happened since September 11," said Mr. Heston, a B-52 crewman in the Army Air Corps in World War II. "There's been a wonderful restoration of pride in America. People are standing up for themselves and not waiting for someone else to rescue them. There's a renewed sense of right and wrong, and that we must protect and defend our way of life."
Defend it, and help shape it, said Mr. Milius.
"Television and films do have an impact on how people think in this country. Kids are affected by what they see, and it helps shape their view of the world. And we should be mindful of that, because to deny it is to deny reality," he said.


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