'Beyond the Pale': NRA Head Oliver North Says Attacks on Gun Lobby Worse Than Jim Crow Violence

In an interview on Thursday, NRA President Oliver North compared the criticism that gun rights activists are facing as Americans call for gun safety legislation, to the attacks on civil rights advocates in the 1960s. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

'Beyond the Pale': NRA Head Oliver North Says Attacks on Gun Lobby Worse Than Jim Crow Violence

"Oliver North should apologize, to black Americans and to all who've been touched by racism or gun violence in this country."

The NRA's newly-appointed president Oliver North was under fire on Thursday after he compared protest actions against the powerful gun industry lobbyist group to the violent and racist attacks on the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

North claimed in an interview with the Washington Times that the student-led #NeverAgain movement which has invigorated Americans since February's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., amounts to "civil terrorism."

"This is the kind of thing that's never been seen against a civil rights organization in America," said North. "You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things--even there you didn't have this kind of thing."

"For the NRA to compare its treatment today to the atrocities that occurred during the Jim Crow era is beyond the pale, especially considering it's the NRA's extreme leaders who have harassed and intimidated survivors of gun violence with often vile rhetoric," said Rev. Sharon Risher, whose family members were killed in a mass shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015. "Oliver North should apologize, to black Americans and to all who've been touched by racism or gun violence in this country."

North offered the example of vandalism at NRA lobbyist Chris Cox's home and unspecified "threats" against the group's leaders to support his claims. But the #NeverAgain movement has stressed the importance of civil disobedience and urged supporters to "de-escalate confrontations with others," with organizers of the March for Our Lives, which drew hundreds of thousands of protesters to Washington, D.C., in March, imploring attendees to "participate nonviolently."

North also claimed the NRA has been the victim of a "cyberwar" at the hands of its opponents.

"They can use the media against us--they are," he said.

The nationwide anti-gun movement--including student walkouts and rallies in addition to the March for Our Lives--has indeed garnered media coverage in recent months. But the NRA has been no stranger to employing its media arm, NRATV, to attack opponents and further its cause of promoting firearms including the AR-15, which was used in the Parkland shooting as well as several other recent mass killings.

One video put out by the group last year showed protesters demonstrating against President Donald Trump's immigration policy while NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch warned that progressives "smash windows, burn cars...until the only option left is for police to do their jobs and stop the madness." Another warned the New York Times that NRA members were "coming for" the newspaper.

In North's interview, he also accused the gun control movement of going after "our bank accounts, our finances"--an apparent reference to pressure #NeverAgain activists have put on businesses to cut ties with the NRA in order to curb the group's power, resulting in numerous companies ending benefits programs to members.

While the student-led gun control movement has had the effect of mobilizing Americans against the NRA's cause, the group behind the March for Our Lives makes no mention of the NRA in their mission statement, instead focusing on the expansion of background checks for gun purchasers and other legislative reforms.

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