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Oliver North, known for orchestrating an illegal weapons deal which spawned the Iran-Contra affair, has been named as the NRA's next president. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Oliver North, Whose 'Very Name Is Synonymous With Corruption and Disgrace,' Is NRA's Next President

"Can Oliver North even own a gun?"

Julia Conley

Gun control advocacy groups and progressive critics expressed disbelief Monday when the National Rifle Association (NRA) announced that Oliver North—known for overseeing illegal weapons sales which led to his felony conviction in the late 1980s—will serve as the powerful lobbying group's next president.

North has recently worked as a Fox News commentator, but he is best known for his role in the Reagan-era Iran-Contra affair.

As a member of President Ronald Reagan's National Security Council, North orchestrated a weapons deal in which the U.S. sold arms to Iran despite an embargo on sales to the country. The proceeds from the sale were diverted to the U.S.-backed right-wing contra forces in Nicaragua, which were involved in cocaine trafficking and human rights abuses. North then destroyed evidence of the scheme, lied about the incident to Congress, and was convicted on three felony counts which were later reversed.

Critics and gun control advocates noted the irony of the selection of North to lead a group that claims to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners—despite an abundance of evidence that the NRA is chiefly concerned with stripping away laws that regulate the sale and transfer of firearms.

In addition to his new role as president of the NRA, The Intercept reported last December, North has been involved in devising a plan to establish a global network of spies that would report directly to President Donald Trump and the CIA. According to Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole, North was "enlisted to help sell the effort to the administration. He was the 'ideological leader' brought in to lend credibility." 

"Perhaps the NRA is feeling the pressure from the past few months to change their leadership—but it's downright baffling that they'd choose to install a walking lightning rod at the top of the organization," Kris Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement. "Oliver North's very name is synonymous with corruption and disgrace."

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