National Rifle Association names Fox News contributor Oliver North as new president

Mr North is retiring from his Fox News post effective immediately, the news network says

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 08 May 2018 14:54 BST
Mr North was a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal
Mr North was a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal (AP)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has named Oliver North — a Fox news contributor and central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — as its new president.

The decision was announced by the NRA’s executive vice president and CEO, Wayne LaPierre in a statement announcing the pick Monday.

“Oliver North is, hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board, to fully engage with our members, and to unflinchingly stand and fight for the great freedoms he has defended his entire life,” Mr LaPierre said in the statement.

In the statement, Mr LaPierre compared Mr North to Charlton Heston, a former president of the group and a Hollywood icon.

Mr North will take up his post “within a few weeks”, and is retiring from his position with Fox News effective immediately.

"I am honoured to have been selected by the NRA Board to soon serve as this great organisation’s President,” Mr North said. “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.”

Mr North is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, who was in the middle of the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s.

That scandal thrust him into the public spotlight during the administration of Ronald Reagan. He later claimed to have had partial responsibility for selling weapons to Iran through intermediaries, and allegedly using the profits from those weapons to funnel money to the Contras, a Nicaraguan guerilla military group.

He was later dismissed from his military post by Reagan after the arms sales were made public, and was tried on 16 felony charges, and was initially convicted on three of those charge. They included accepting illegal payments, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of an inquiry of Congress, and ordering the destruction of documents.

Mr North, 74, has been a long time member of the NRA, and is a member of the group's board.

He had attended a prayer breakfast at the NRA's annual convention Saturday in Dallas.

"I want my grand kids to say that Granddad was a person who taught me how to fight the good fight, how to finish the race, how to keep the faith," Mr North said during that breakfast. "You see, that's the most important lesson of all: We're in a fight. We're in a brutal battle to preserve the liberties that the good Lord presents us."

Mr North's new position comes as the United States has been engaged in a bitter debate over the nation's gun control laws following the high school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Student survivors of that attack have come together alongside their peers in states across the country to push for stricter gun control laws, and have threatened electoral retribution for any politicians who do not back gun control measures.

At the same time, the powerful lobbying strength of the NRA has pushed back on legislative efforts to enact gun control, framing those efforts as an attack on liberties in the United States and the Constitution's Second Amendment.

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