The NRA has announced its new president, and it’s exactly the kind of person you would expect to be chosen by an organization as ghoulish as the nation’s most notorious gun lobby.
Oliver North, one of the most prominent figures of the Iran-Contra scandal, will take over leadership of the NRA in a few weeks, reports CNN. North, 74, has also been a recurrent fixture on Fox News in recent years, making today’s announcement something of a double punch of terrible politics for him. He has long been a board member for the NRA and has repeatedly appeared at its national conventions.
North served on the National Security Council under President Reagan and played a key role in illegally funneling weapons to Iran despite an arms embargo. The money was used to support the brutal right-wing Contra death squads in Nicaragua, an act that had been outlawed by Congress.
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The scheme was also intended to negotiate the release of American prisoners being held in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a Shi’a militant group patronized by Iran. It snowballed into the biggest political scandal of the Reagan era.
For his role in the affair, North was eventually convicted of numerous felonies. However, the ruling was later vacated through an appeal that claimed some of the witnesses in his case had been unfairly influenced by the testimony he gave before Congress, during which he had admitted to shredding documents.
It’s perhaps not terribly surprising that the NRA is choosing a military man to lead it, given how central the organization has become in the culture war this past year. Spurred by the brave activism of the Parkland shooting survivors, the nation is finally having its long overdue conversation about gun laws and the massive spectre that mass shootings cast over modern American life.
The NRA has launched an all-out media blitz to try to kill the momentum building behind gun reform and in the process revealed to most of the nation what a monstrous force it’s been all along.
The NRA is a cynical organization and in North it’s found the perfect cynic to finally drive it right into the ground. Hopefully, his tenure destroys the last of the bloodthirsty lobby’s credibility in much the same way he did for the Reagan administration.