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.
Oliver North has just been announced as the new @NRA president. His record includes lying to Congress, shredding WH documents, funneling $$ from an arms deal w/ Iran, AND being a @FoxNews host. https://t.co/nboaG3A5D4
— Brady Campaign (@Bradybuzz) May 7, 2018
The job interview for @NRA President:
NRA: So what's your experience?
Oliver North: I illegally sold guns.
NRA: Go on...
North: Laundered money for a foreign power.
NRA: You'd fit in...
North: Raised millions for losing Senate run.
NRA: And hired!https://t.co/G5qSbkyeqm
— Peter Ambler (@PeterMAmbler) May 7, 2018
Oliver North, who sold weapons to Iran so he could buy guns from a Syrian terrorist and then give the guns to farmer-murdering death squads, with the help of a drug-dealing Panamanian dictator. Then lied about it.
The face of law-abiding gun ownership. https://t.co/5GJgFLSjD7
— zeddy (@Zeddary) May 7, 2018
Oliver North was convicted on three charges for taking part in the scandal to illegally sell firearms to Iran during the Reagan-era.
— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) May 7, 2018
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."
The @NRA has chosen Oliver North as its next president. North recently pitched a private, global spy network to the White House as a means of countering “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Trump, according to sources. https://t.co/EAHbWDkI6k
— The Intercept (@theintercept) May 7, 2018
"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."