The National Rifle Association announced Monday that retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Oliver North will become the next president of the association “within a few weeks,” in an unusual chain of developments that saw Pete Brownell decide not to run for a second term, and the organization’s first and second vice presidents unable to take the position.
In a press release, the NRA said the Board of Directors, which met Monday, began the process.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called it “the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became President of our Association.”
“Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader. In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President.”
According to the NRA announcement, Brownell is stepping aside “in order to devote his full time and energy to his family business.” Brownell’s is a widely known mail order company serving firearms enthusiasts.
Support for the announcement came in almost immediately from the firearms community. Alan M. Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, told Liberty Park Press, “Oliver North is a great choice for NRA president.”
“His lifelong commitment to advancing Second Amendment Rights is legendary,” Gottlieb observed. “We all at the Second Amendment Foundation look forward to working with him at a time when our civil and constitutional right to own a firearm is not only under attack but is being demonized like never before.”
SAF and NRA have teamed up on several lawsuits over the past few years, including the joint action to stop the New Orleans gun confiscations following Hurricane Katrina, the derailment of a gun ban in San Francisco, preventing Seattle from banning legally-carried guns in city park facilities and challenging the gun and ammunition tax in Seattle.
The NRA also noted:
“After the announcement, NRA First Vice President Richard Childress informed the board that he had multiple commitments in the next several weeks and was unable to be immediately available to serve as interim President. The Board then selected Second Vice President Carolyn Meadows to serve as its interim President. Meadows will step aside in a few weeks, when Lt. Colonel North is prepared to take on his new role as NRA President.”
North became known for his part in the Iran-Contra affair three decades ago. After his legal battles, he became a political commentator and best-selling author, military historian and television host. With Monday’s announcement, North is retiring from Fox News, where he has been something of a fixture for several years. That is effective immediately, NRA said.
The transition period will allow North to satisfy several commitments he has over the next few weeks, NRA said.
North could become a powerful voice for NRA, which has been under a barrage of political fire in the nearly three months since the Feb. 14 attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where a former student used a legally-purchased rifle to murder 14 students and three adults. NRA was quickly targeted for criticism, although the organization had nothing to do with the crime.
In the weeks following that tragedy, NRA has been vilified by anti-gunners in the media and on Capitol Hill. There have been unprecedented incidents in which the wife of NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox was reportedly targeted by someone posting a fake website for her business. Their home was spattered with fake blood. The incidents even got the attention of the Washington Post.
Elsewhere, someone posted a billboard message in Kentucky that said “Kill the NRA.”
North, 74, will almost assuredly find himself in the midst of a political firestorm as the mid-term elections loom. If Democrats take control of Congress, gun owners and President Donald Trump will likely face an onslaught, as noted by several speakers over the weekend at the NRA’s annual meetings and exhibits in Dallas.