NEW YORK (AP) _ Spike Lee says he was joking when he suggested Charlton Heston should be shot.

The director was quoted in Saturday's New York Post as telling reporters at the Cannes Film Festival that the National Rifle Association should be disbanded and, of Heston, ``Shoot him with a .44 Bulldog.''

``I intended it as ironic, as a joke to show how violence begets more violence,'' Lee said Thursday. ``I told everyone there it was a joke. I said I did not want to read in the papers, 'Shoot Charlton Heston.'''

He said his remarks were in response to a question about whether Hollywood was to blame for the recent rash of school shootings. ``The problem is guns,'' he said.

Lee said he had no reason to apologize.

Heston, the NRA president, had earlier said the remarks amused him.

``He gave me a big laugh,'' Heston said Thursday on the Los Angeles talk radio station KABC-AM. ``The statement is a foolish one and it's not worth arguing about. If he wants to come and take a shot at me, go let him try it.''

Lee's comment had also prompted an outcry from House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas. Armey condemned Lee's ``embrace of violence.''

``Spike Lee obviously has nothing to offer the debate on school violence except more violence and more hate,'' said Armey. ``He should apologize immediately for this unfortunate remark.

Lee, known for such films as ``Malcolm X,'' ``He Got Game'' and ``Do the Right Thing,'' blamed guns for violence.

``The reason the United States is the most violent country in the history of civilization is the proliferation of guns,'' he said Thursday.