March 8, 2018

“From my cold, dead hands”

Charlton Heston, Cold Dead Hands speech-8x6

“From my cold, dead hands.”
       Charlton Heston
       American actor, ‘60s civil rights activist, President of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003
       This is Heston’s famed catchphrase about gun rights, intended to mean that he and other gun owners would literally fight to the death to prevent the government from taking away their guns. It’s based on previous slogans used by gun rights groups as early as the mid-1970s. For example, an NRA bumper sticker Heston was well aware of said “I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands.” However, Heston’s is the most famous (and infamous) use of “From my cold, dead hands.”              
       He first spoke the phrase in a notable public forum on April 29, 1989, at the NRA’s annual convention in St. Louis. Three months before that, on January 17, 1989, an unemployed welder named Patrick Edward Purdy, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed five school children and wounded 32 others on the playground at the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California. This shocking and, at the time, still rare example of a mass school shooting generated a media firestorm and led to calls for state and federal action to ban assault weapons.
        In his remarks at the 1989 NRA convention, Heston argued that proposals for such bans were sparked by “media bias” against guns and would be unworkable, unacceptable infringements on the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. After making his speech, Heston was presented with a silver-and-gold plated replica of a flintlock rifle. Smiling happily, he held up the gun and said: “I have only one more comment to make: From my cold, dead hands.”
       Heston later used the words in other speeches at NRA events, usually as a closing line. One particularly high profile use was in the speech he gave at the NRA’s May 20, 2000 annual convention, which came during the 2000 presidential campaign and garnered considerable media attention. In that speech, Heston criticized Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore for his support of stronger gun control laws. At the end, holding the flintlock he was given in 1989, he said: “As we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: ‘From my cold, dead hands!’”             
      The saying has continued to be a favorite slogan of gun rights advocates and a target of mockery by gun control advocates. It has also spawned numerous take-offs and variations involving things other than guns, as shown by the examples below.

John Oliver NRA Nutella segment

“The NRA: a group that feels about guns the way the rest of us feel about Nutella. A little is good, more is better, and you can tell me it’s bad for me all you like, but you will pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
       John Oliver

       Host of the HBO’s TV show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
       In a segment about the NRA and the NRA TV channel first aired on March 4, 2018

Charles Arthur, The Guardian

“It all adds up to one conclusion: the iPad is a success…So for those saying you'll never buy one, and that they’ll prise your laptop from your cold, dead hands — quite possibly. But lots of people around you will have iPads.”
        Charles Arthur

        Technology editor at The Guardian newspaper in London
        In a post on The Guardian Technology Blog on April 6, 2010

Proma Khosla, writer

“A study from the investment company Acorns has found that a surprisingly high percentage of Americans would skip the final Game of Thrones season in exchange for $1,000...As for us, you can pry Westeros away from our cold, dead hands.”
       Proma Khosla

       American entertainment reporter
       In an article posted on on February 27, 2018

Steve Yacht Excel quote

“You can have my excel, after you ripped it from my cold, dead hands.”
       Steven Yacht

       American Certified Public Accountant
       In a November 2017 Twitter comment responding to a Wall Street Journal article in which Adobe Inc.’s finance chief Mark Garrett suggested that accountants should stop using Microsoft Corp.’s Excel spreadsheet software because it “hasn’t kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units”

Fat foods-8x6

“They’ll get my onion rings when they pry them from my cold, dead (possibly from a massive coronary) hands!”
       James Poniewozik

       American journalist and television critic
       In an article in the April 5, 2010 issue of Time magazine about the views of people who eat way too much fried food

K.E. Bevier, writer

“The Supreme Court needs to consider the lethality of modern weapons in any new restrictions, but Congress must give it something to work with. The slaughter continues, not because of the Second Amendment, but because Congress has split us into two camps: the first with paranoid visions of cold, dead hands wrapped around AR-15s, the second with childish dreams of a Pollyannaish utopia with no guns, perfect mental health and no explosives.”
       K.E. Bevier

       American writer
       In a letter to the Editor of the South Carolina newspaper The State, published on March 07, 2018

Comedy Central gun investment-8x6

“Laugh it up, gun control candy-asses. While your portfolio sinks deeper into the abyss, our savings plan is robust. Buying automatic weapons now will put our kids through college later. And unlike your pussified Roth IRA, when the jackbooted thugs kick in the doors to loot our weaponry...Let’s just say it won't be our cold dead hands opening next month’s depressing investment report.”
       Patrick Sauer

       American freelance writer and humorist             
       In a comment on a now apparently deleted video on the, which was a repost of Josh Gad’s June 2, 2009 segment on the Daily Show  about the fact that fears President Obama might ban assault weapons was driving up the price of such guns, making them a “good investment”

THE ONION, snarky Charlton Heston obit

“Charlton Heston’s Gun Taken From His Cold, Dead Hands.”
       The Onion

       The darkly humorous satirical news site             
       Headline above a photo of Heston holding a rifle at an NRA convention, posted on The Onion website on April 7, 2008, two days after his death

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