National News

North Is Named NRA President

Posted May 7, 2018 5:15 p.m. EDT
Updated May 7, 2018 5:18 p.m. EDT

Oliver L. North, who became a household name in the 1980s for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, will become the next president of the National Rifle Association, the gun rights organization said Monday.

“Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader,” Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s chief executive, said in a statement. “In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President.”

North, 74, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and aide to President Ronald Reagan, said he would take the helm of the organization in a few weeks. He will succeed Pete Brownell, who was elected last year and announced Monday morning that he would not seek election to a second term.

“I appreciate the board initiating a process that affords me a few weeks to set my affairs in order, and I am eager to hit the ground running as the new NRA President,” North said in the statement.

North emerged in 1986 as a central figure in the Iran-Contra affair, in which the Reagan administration used the proceeds from the secret sale of arms to Iran to aid rebel forces in Nicaragua. The nationally televised testimony North provided to Congress the following year transfixed the nation.

In 1989, North was convicted of destroying government documents, accepting an illegal gratuity and aiding and abetting in the obstruction of Congress. He successfully fought those convictions, getting them reversed in 1991 after prosecutors concluded they could not prove that the witnesses who testified against him weren’t influenced by his congressional testimony, for which he was granted immunity.

In recent years, North has been active as a political commentator, author and television host. He said Monday that he would retire immediately from Fox News, where he was a contributor and hosted a documentary series titled “War Stories With Oliver North.”

On Sunday, the NRA concluded its 147th annual meeting, a four-day event that was hosted in Dallas and drew about 75,000 attendees from across the country. The meeting came at a sensitive time for the group, which has been a focus of criticism after a string of recent mass shootings, including one of the deadliest in the nation’s history: the massacre in Las Vegas in which 58 people were killed.

North was one of the first political figures to address the crowd at the annual meeting, leading thousands of NRA members in an unapologetically patriotic and Christian opening invocation. The prayer received enthusiastic applause in the arena.

“Lord, we ask you to deliver us from our enemies, for your forgiveness for those things that we have done and that which we failed to do, when we stray from your word,” North said. “We beseech you for godly, enlightened leaders.”