DENVER (Reuters) - Following are excerpts from an address National Rifle
Association President Charlton Heston delivered to the 128-year-old
organisationís annual meeting in Denver on Saturday:

Wellington Webb, the mayor of Denver, sent me a message:
''Don't come here. We don't want you here''.

I say to the Mayor, I volunteered for the war they wanted me to attend when I was 18 years old. Since then, I've run small errands for my country from Nigeria to Vietnam. I know many of you could say the same.
But the Mayor said, ``Don't come.''

NRA members labour in Denver's factories, populate Denver's faculties, run Denver corporations, play on Colorado sports teams, work in media across the front range, parent and teach and coach Denver's children, attend Denver's churches, and proudly represent Denver in uniform on the world's oceans and in the skies over Kosovo at this very moment.

And yes, NRA members are surely among the police and fire and SWAT team heroes who risked their lives to rescue the students of Columbine from evil, mindless executioners.

I see our country teetering on the edge of an abyss. At its bottom brews the simmering bile of deep, dark hatred. Hatred that's dividing our country politically, racially, economically, geographically, in every way.

We're not the rustic, reckless radicals they wish for. No, the NRA spans the broadest range of American demography imaginable. We defy stereotype except for love of country.

Why us? Because their story needs a villain. They want us to play the heavy in their drama of packaged grief, to provide riveting programming to run between commercials for cars and cat food.

Our mission is to remain a steady beacon of strength and support for the Second Amendment, even if it has no other friend on the planet. We cannot let tragedy lay waste to the most rare and hard-won human right in history.

The Founding Fathers guaranteed this freedom because they knew no tyranny can ever arise among a people endowed with the right to keep and bear arms.

That's why you and your descendants need never fear fascism, state-run faith, refugee camps, brainwashing, ethnic cleansing, or especially, submission to the wanton will of criminals.



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