The National Rifle Association announced Monday it had selected retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North to replace Pete Brownell as president of the organization. The announcement comes alongside Brownell’s decision to exit the NRA in order to focus on his family business.
“This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became President of our Association,” said NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. “Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator, and skilled leader. In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our president.”
North’s appointment was announced at a meeting in Dallas, where President Trump promised not to tighten firearms laws despite suggestions earlier his year that he would oppose the NRA after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
North, 74, is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, best-selling author, and former Fox News analyst whose role in the 1980’s Iran-Contra weapons deal earned him a somewhat infamous reputation.
North was indicted on 16 felony counts in 1989 after participating in the deal and then lying about it to investigators. At the time, he was working as a National Security Council aide to President Reagan. North was sentenced to three years in prison, but a judge dismissed the charge in 1991.
North, who is the closest thing the NRA has to a celebrity, says he is “honored to have been selected” and is “eager to hit the ground running as the new NRA president.”
North will assume leadership of the NRA at a time of unprecedented support for gun legislation prompted by the shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland.
“Oliver North’s very name is synonymous with corruption and disgrace,” said Kris Brown, who leads the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The man is a “walking lightning rod.”