Thomas Washington, 58, who had been president of the National Rifle Assn. for the last two years. A staunch defender of the constitutional right to bear arms, Washington was also executive director for two decades of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, promoting fishing, hunting, firearms and conservation interests. His tenure as head of the NRA was marked by increasing political controversy. One fund-raising letter implying that government encourages federal agents to commit violence against ordinary people prompted former President George Bush and former House Speaker Tom Foley to resign from the organization. Washington defended the accusation as "more truth than slander." On Tuesday in Dearborn, Mich., of a heart attack suffered while deer hunting.
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