Oliver North: NRA president forced out amid bitter power struggle at top of gun rights group

‘There is a clear crisis and it needs to be dealt with,’ says retired colonel in parting statement

Adam Forrest
Saturday 27 April 2019 19:18 BST
Oliver North addresses the NRA's annual meeting earlier this week
Oliver North addresses the NRA's annual meeting earlier this week (REUTERS)

Oliver North has announced he is quitting as president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) after suggesting he was forced out of the role at the gun rights organisation.

The leading conservative figure claimed he was ousted after alleging financial improprieties by some of his fellow board members.

It follows a bitter fight with the organisations' chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, who alleged earlier this week that Mr North was trying to drive him out and extort him.

In a statement to the gun lobbying group’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, read out by an NRA board member, Mr North said he had hoped to stand for re-election when his term came to an end next week.

“I am now informed that will not happen,” the retired US Marine Corps lieutenant colonel added.

His dramatic departure came after the NRA’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre accused Mr North of trying to oust him by threatening to release “damaging” information about him, according to a letter sent by Mr LaPierre to NRA board members.

In his letter, published in The Wall Street Journal, Mr LaPierre said Mr North was seeking to extort him, discredit the NRA, and “raise appearances of impropriety that hurt our members and the Second Amendment” which gives Americans the right to bear firearms.

The chief executive got two standing ovations from the crowd of more than 1,000 members on Saturday, as he attacked the mainstream media and lawmakers who seek to restrict gun rights.

He did not mention his feud with Mr North.

In his parting statement, Mr North said he believes a committee should now be set up to review the organisation’s finances. “There is a clear crisis and it needs to be dealt with.”

NRA officials have not yet commented on the falling out between the pair.

Mr North, 75, became notorious during the Iran-Contra affair involving secret sales of arms to Iran by President Ronald Reagan’s administration and the unlawful diversion of the proceeds to Nicaraguan rebels.

Wayne LaPierre speaks at the NRA conference in Indianapolis on Saturday, 27 April (AP)

He was convicted in 1989 of three felonies related to the scandal, but his convictions were overturned on appeal in 1990.

Named by the NRA as its president in May 2018, Mr LaPierre hailed him as “a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader”.

He later became a conservative radio talk show host and frequent commentator on conservative TV networks.

NRA crowd boos media after Trump calls them 'fake' at annual meeting

Donald Trump addressed the NRA’s annual meeting and vowed to revoke the US’ status as a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty earlier this week.

The president claimed he was withdrawing support from the accord because it gave a degree of US sovereignty to other countries.

Additional reporting by agencies

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in