Oliver North, the former convicted felon who recently took over as president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), compared the gun reform movement to Jim Crow-era oppression of African Americans.

In a recent interview with The Washington Times (a conservative paper founded by a South Korean cult leader), North claimed he was put in his new position as a means of countering the gun reform movement’s activism targeting the NRA and its leadership. The former NRA board member-turned president of the organization told the paper that some of the actions of gun reform activists amount to “civil terrorism.”

“They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism,” said the president of the group that once robo-called residents of Newtown, Connecticut in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. “This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America.”

North also called the aggressive online advocacy of leading gun reform proponents like Parkland massacre survivors David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez “cyberwar,” and hinted the NRA was facing oppression not unlike the kind faced by African Americans in the time of the segregated South.

“You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing,” North told the Times. “We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.”

The “cyberwar” North is referring to is likely a reference to viral social media moments like Stoneman Douglas student Sarah Chadwick mocking NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch’s propaganda video threatening journalists. It’s worth remembering that approximately 4,000 African Americans were lynched during the Jim Crow era that North referred to, in which some mobs of whites who murdered unarmed black people posed next to their mutilated bodies for photographs that would eventually be turned into postcards.

Jim Crow
Mob of whites posing next to person they lynched in Oklahoma during the “Red Summer”
Jim Crow
Whites posing next to lynching victims in Minnesota

It could be argued that the Jim Crow era never ended, as there were more black people killed by police in 2015 than African Americans lynched in the worst year of Jim Crow. As Quartz reported, 161 black people were lynched in 1892, which was considered the most violent year of the Jim row era. To compare, 258 black people were killed by police in 2015, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

Regarding North’s likening of anti-NRA activism to “civil terrorism,” some of the NRA’s actions are eerily similar to the actions of actual terror group ISIS, in that both of them make veiled threats to journalists, distribute ominous propaganda videos, target children in their recruiting efforts, and that they both have a history of seizing weapons from political opponents.


Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.

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