Oliver North — one of the key players in the Reagan administration’s Iran-Contra scandal — has been selected as the next president of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
According to a statement issued by NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre, North will assume his new position at the helm of America’s most powerful gun lobby group in the next several weeks.
“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,” LaPierre stated.
As a member of Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North oversaw the sale of weapons to a group known as Frente Democrático Nacional (the “contras”) who were fighting to overthrow the socialist government in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
Even though Congress passed a bill forbidding the sale of weapons to the Contras due to their reliance on cocaine trafficking, North orchestrated a scheme in which he would get around Congress by selling weapons to Israel, who would then sell those weapons for a profit to Iran, while putting the profit in Swiss bank accounts controlled by the Contras. He then ordered his secretary, Fawn Hall, to destroy all records of the scandal:
North was eventually fired from his position on the National Security Council, and indicted on 16 felony counts. In 1989, he was convicted on three counts — accepting an illegal gratuity, aiding and abetting the destruction of a Congressional inquiry, and ordering his secretary to destroy evidence. North was given a three-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay $150,000 in fines, in addition to community service.
However, the ACLU helped Oliver North reverse his convictions on the grounds that inadmissible testimony had swayed witnesses, and a judge eventually dismissed the entire case in 1991. North eventually became a commentator on Fox News, and inspired a Schoolhouse Rock-style parody video on the cartoon American Dad:
Oliver North will head the NRA at a time when school shooting survivors are advocating for the reform of the nation’s gun laws, and when polls are showing widespread support for additional gun reform measures, like expanding background checks and banning assault weapons.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.