Oliver North Named New President Of National Rifle Association

A blast from the past as Oliver North, who was once at the center of a major Washington scandal, is named President of the National Rifle Association.

A blast from the past this afternoon as the National Rifle Association announced at the conclusion of its annual convention that Oliver North, the retired Marine Lt. Colonel who was at the center of the Iran-Contra Affair, has been named the new President of the organization:

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, a central figure in the Iran-contra affair in the 1980s, has been named president of the National Rifle Association.

The NRA’s board of directors chose North to be the organization’s president Monday morning after NRA President Pete Brownell decided not to seek a second term.

“This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became president of our Association,” said NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre. “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.”

North will assume the presidency in the coming weeks and will retire from Fox News, where he is a commentator.

“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,” North said in a statement.


He has long been active in the NRA, and is a member of its board. He attended a prayer breakfast at the NRA’s annual convention in Dallas on Saturday.

“I want my grandkids 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,” North said, using biblical imagery. “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.”

North, of course, came to prominence in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, when it was revealed that he was at the center of a plan hatched along with National Security Adviser Admiral John Poindexter to circumvent the Congressional ban on providing funding to the Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. That scheme, of course, involved selling arms to Iran in exchange for getting hostages being held in Lebanon at the time released and then using the proceeds of those sales to purchase and deliver military equipment and other material to the Contra fighters at their bases in the area surrounding Nicaragua.

During the hearings on the scandal that became a huge media circus in the summer of 1987, North became something of a media superstar on the right. Eventually, North was charged with 16 separate felony counts related to his role in the scandal, and convicted on three of those counts and sentenced to three years in prison, all of which were suspended, $150,000 in fines and 1,200 hours of community service. One year later, though, those convictions were overturned on appeal in a case where North’s attorneys were assisted by the ACLU. The basis for the decision to overturn the convictions was the finding that several of the jurors that had convicted may have been improperly influenced by the coverage of his Congressional testimony, for which he had been granted immunity. (Source)

Several years later, North entered politics and became the Republican nominee to take on Virginia Senator Chuck Robb in 1994, North lost that race in no small part due to the fact that his candidacy deeply divided the Virginia Republican Party and led to a third-party challenge from Marshall Coleman, a Republican who had been the first GOP candidate elected Attorney General of the state since the Reconstruction Era. In the past decade or so, North has been a frequent commentator on Fox News Channel and also hosted a weekend show on the network for roughly seven years. He has also been a member of the Board of the National Rifle Association for the past several years.

It’s worth noting that the position of President of the NRA doesn’t seem to be the center of the power in the organization. That position continues to belong to NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre, who has held that position since 1991. LaPierre also holds the position of Executive Vice-President. LaPierre has also been one of the primary public faces for the NRA for much of that time period, although one suspects that North, who is now 74 years old, may end up taking on at least part of that role going forward given his experience on cable news and his national prominence at least among those of us who are old enough to remember his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. In any case, after largely being confined to conservative media for the past twenty years or so, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing Ollie North in the news again.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mark Ivey says:

    Finally, my right to keep and bear TOW missiles shall not be infringed.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Beating out Roy Moore, I assume.

  3. Personally, I’m assuming that this means the NRA wants to branch out to selling arms to Iran.

  4. Kathy says:

    I don’t know. Surely people fanatical about owning weapons would consider a convicted felon(*) who armed a terrorist state, not to be exactly ideal.

    (*)Yes, I know about the overturned convictions.

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:
  6. teve tory says:

    So NRA stands for Nicaraguan Rifle Association.

    (stolen from twitter)

  7. MarkedMan says:

    So here’s my favorite Oliver North story, because it is emblematic of him, emblematic of the modern Republican Party and emblematic of the modern Republican voter.

    When he was running for Congress he would come out at a debate or Q&A session and the ditto-heads just loved him to death. But there was one moment when they got quiet. Whenever the subject of his lying to Congress came up, he would say “Of course I lied to Congress. My overwhelming patriotism… yadda yadda yadda…” And he could sense the crowd was uncomfortable with that. Over the course of several weeks he tried phrasing it several different ways, with different emotional bents, but to no avail. So one day when he was asked the question he just reared back in indignation, waved his finger and said “I NEVER LIED TO CONGRESS”. (All caps because he was actually shouting.) And his fawning supporters accepted this without a blink, without a hesitation.

    FWIW, this is one of the reasons I rarely (but, more fool me, not never) respond to our resident Trumpheads. There is literally no more likelihood of showing them the error of their ways by marshaling facts and reality than if they were merely a bot programmed to mindlessly repeat, “Trump is winning! You suck libtard!”

  8. Modulo Myself says:

    Just shows their target demo is old white dudes who have fond memories of watching Ollie North testify thirty-something years ago. And Iran-Contra is not something the right remembers except as a means to stick it to the liberal establishment. The Contras were useless, except in the world of cocaine trafficking, and North ended up–I’m pretty certain–ripping off the Iranians. I think he gave them a cake and a Bible. Anyway, this is nostalgia for the nostalgic daze of the Reagan years.

  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I love that the guy who sold arms to Iran…is now going to sell arms to Americans…at the same time as Dennison is going to step away from the Iran Deal…which will allow Iran to have nuclear arms.
    Republicanists seem intent on arming our enemies.

  10. teve tory says:

    President Dennison’s supposed to make an announcement about Iran tomorrow.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    We’re in a brutal battle to preserve the liberties that the good Lord presents us.

    I can only echo North. Good Lord.

  12. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    More ironical richness…Ollie was funding the Contras (arguably terrorists) to try and oust the Sandinistas and Ortega…who is now back in power, stronger than ever, and is exactly the kind of authoritarian Dennison wishes he could be. In fact Ortega and Dennison are two of only three leaders in the world who won’t sign the Paris Accord (the other is Syrian).

  13. teve tory says:

    A daily Open Thread wouldn’t be a bad idea around mheah.

  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    Is Ollie North even legally allowed to own a gun? I thought he was a convicted felon?

  15. teve tory says:

    Convictions overturned on some LibTard “technicality” with the help of the ACLU.

  16. Gustopher says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha.

  17. Paul L. says:

    @teve tory:
    The “technicality” was prosecutors breaking promises to the defendant and messing up testimonial immunity.
    Bet if Sen. Ted Stevens were still alive, Democrats would be saying he was a convicted felon and excusing the Prosecutoral misconduct by the DOJ in his case.

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    Ted Stevens is dead. You are deluded. Your comment is worthless.

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    @teve tory:..open thread

    OTB Policies
    Each individual author is responsible for monitoring the comments to their posts, and ultimately determines which comments merit deletion.

    So who will monitor comments on this Free For All you are proposing?

  20. Kathy says:

    @teve tory:

    A daily Open Thread wouldn’t be a bad idea around mheah.

    I’d like that. The quality of the conversation here, minus a few exceptions, proves to be quite intellectually stimulating. Where else on the internet can one read the comments section without running into something uglier than Trump’s soul?

  21. dmichael says:

    @michael reynolds: Nah, his little pistol wasn’t a big enough firearm.

  22. Kylopod says:


    FWIW, this is one of the reasons I rarely (but, more fool me, not never) respond to our resident Trumpheads. There is literally no more likelihood of showing them the error of their ways by marshaling facts and reality than if they were merely a bot programmed to mindlessly repeat, “Trump is winning! You suck libtard!”

    As someone who does frequently respond to the Trumpheads in a calm, point-by-point fashion (like here), I should make clear that I am under no illusion that I’ll make them see the error of their ways. So why do I do it? For one thing, whenever I’ve read discussions in which I didn’t participate, or I didn’t have the patience to respond to a wingnut’s BS myself, I’ve tremendously appreciated other people who took the time to do so. When nobody answers or everybody responds merely with snark, then their claims will remain unanswered, and there’s a possibility that some readers will come away with the impression that at least some of what they’re saying has merit. For instance, in that discussion I linked to from a few days ago, I did not know going in whether TM01’s critique of a Politifact article was valid or not. While the notion that Trump isn’t a massive liar is self-evidently absurd to anyone with a modicum of sense, I’ve had my issues with Politifact before, and there was a possibility I’d find myself agreeing with TM01 on this narrow point. When I investigated TM01’s argument and it turned out to be the usual thoughtless, fallacious nonsense that ignored context and compared apples and oranges, and TM01 offered no further comments in response to my takedown, it confirmed what I suspected.

    Speaking more broadly, over the years it was an important discovery to me that the usual suspects are pathetically unable to confront serious challenges to their arguments, and that their typical response is simply to am-scray from the discussion. It helps confirm more than ever how much their worldview is built on sand. And part of the sickness that is modern conservatism is the very fact that they’re almost comically oblivious to getting destroyed in an argument, because they’re as a rule so completely brainwashed that they are literally incapable of even conceptualizing the idea that that they might be wrong and that we might have a point. (Michael Reynolds compares it to the robots from Westworld saying “it doesn’t look like anything to me.”) So no matter how battered their arguments actually get, they always emerge from every discussion with the absolute, unshakable conviction that they’ve successfully bested the weenie libtards we all self-evidently are.

    I have my limits. I don’t respond to every bit of blather coming from these folks. In many cases it just isn’t worth it. In the past I’ve had a weakness for allowing myself to be pulled down a rabbit hole by certain kinds of trolls. Nowadays I try to limit myself to simply presenting the facts, and leaving it at that. But I continue to believe it is not a waste of time to respond altogether, and that I’m performing a valuable service by not letting their nonsense slide, assuming it’s so obviously ridiculous nobody would be swayed. If I think in those terms, then how am I any different from them?

  23. teve tory says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    So who will monitor comments on this Free For All you are proposing?

    Not me, I already help moderate a biology discussion board. But it’s not a lot of work because there’s like a 95/5 science-educated-person/creationist ratio. The ratio of good to bad here is pretty similar.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: FWIW, if I do respond to a nut job post, I try not to hit reply, but rather just do a “for the record” type post. After all, your typical Trumpoid will often actually admit that their main goal is to make Libruls angry.

  25. al-Ameda says:

    It’s official now: we’ve successfully transitioned from
    ‘Abraham, Martin and John’ to ‘Trump, Palin and North.’

    Honestly, why does anyone even try to write fiction?
    How do you compete with this stuff?

  26. teve tory says:

    friend of mine on the The Book of Faces:

    How fitting that a man who was convicted for destroying documents related to his organization of the sale of 2512 anti-tank weapons, and 18 AA missiles to our enemies in Iran should be named the new president of the NRA.

  27. teve tory says:

    ed brayton:

    Ollie North becoming president of the NRA feels like the most ‘Murica thing ever to happen. We may have hit peak ‘Murica. They’ll be holding an official installment ceremony that features him waving a confederate flag from the bed of a pickup truck while “rolling coal” and running over a group of immigrants with Kid Rock blaring at 150 decibels.

  28. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @teve tory: “The ratio of good to bad here is pretty similar.”
    See? You could take this one on, too!

  29. teve tory says:

    maybe the mods here could rotate them.

  30. teve tory says: